981 consecutive splenectomies at The New York Hospital were reviewed. 18.9% were removed incidental to some other procedure, either to facilitate exposure or because of uncontrolled bleeding from capsular tears. The primary operation with which this was most frequently associated was gastric resection for peptic ulcer disease, accounting for 20.5% of the spleens so removed. Conversely, the incidental splenectomy was noted in only 0.91% of all gastrectomies and 1.4% of all left colectomies designated as nonradical procedures. It is therefore seldom a necessary procedure. Incidental splenectomy is more frequent when midline abdominal incisions are employed, less frequent with paramedian or left rectus splitting incisions. 85% of the spleens removed incidentally were grossly and microscopically unremarkable; lacerations most probably result from excessive manipulation rather than pathological changes predisposing to rupture. The postoperative morbidity and mortality is discussed and is felt to be increased significantly by the incidental splenectomy.
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