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Solid Organ Injury Patient Handout

Spleen Injury
You have injured your spleen — and it needs time to heal. This fact sheet explains what the spleen is, how to protect your spleen while it heals, warning signs to watch for, and how to manage pain. 

What is the spleen? 
The spleen is an organ in the upper left part of the abdomen. Your spleen helps to filter bacteria (germs) from your blood. If your spleen is injured again, you could be at risk for serious bleeding. This is why it’s important to rest and limit activity to prevent further injury to your spleen. 

Activity do’s and don’ts 
Recovery generally takes 3 to 12 weeks. This time will be determined by evidence of spleen healing. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, during this time follow the general guidelines below. 
  • DON’T do the following activities: 
    • Don’t lift more than 10 pounds. In other words, don’t lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. 
    • Don’t push or pull anything heavy. For example, don’t vacuum, mow, or shovel. 
    • Don’t do activities that could cause injury, such as contact sports or high-impact exercise. For example, avoid: – Football, basketball, or wrestling – Sports that require a helmet – Hiking, biking, or running – Horseback riding or ATV riding – Aerobics, crunches, or sit-ups 
  • DO the following activities: 
    • Walk, do low-impact exercise, and resume normal daily activities. (You may resume sexual activity when you feel ready.) Be careful not to overdo these activities. 
    • Keep your follow-up appointment with your primary care provider or the Trauma Service. 
    • You can return to work when your primary healthcare provider says it’s okay. 
Warning signs — when to get help 
If you have any of the symptoms below — especially if they are getting worse — call the Trauma Service or go to the nearest emergency department
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness • Increased pain in your abdomen 
  • Swelling in your abdomen, or feeling overly full 
  • Fever of 102°F or higher 
  • Nausea or vomiting that doesn’t get better 
  • Trouble with emptying your bowels, or constipation that doesn’t get better
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Liver Injury
Your liver has been injured — and it needs time to heal. While it’s healing, you must rest and limit activity. This fact sheet explains what you should avoid, what you can do, warning signs to watch for, and how to manage pain. Following these guidelines will help protect your liver so it can heal. 

Activity do’s and don’ts 
Recovery generally takes 3 to 6 months. This time will be determined by evidence of liver healing. Unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, during this time follow the general guidelines below.
  • DON’T do the following activities: 
    • Don’t lift more than 10 pounds. In other words, don’t lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk. •
    • Don’t push or pull anything heavy. For example, don’t vacuum, mow, or shovel. 
    • Don’t do any activity that could cause injury, such as contact sports or high-impact exercise. For example, avoid: – Football, basketball, or wrestling – Sports that require a helmet – Hiking, biking, or running – Aerobics, crunches, or sit-ups – Horseback riding or ATV riding 
Ask your healthcare provider how long to avoid these activities. The amount of time varies, based on your liver injury. 
  • DO the following activities: 
    • Walk, do low-impact exercise, and resume normal daily activities. (You may resume sexual activity when you feel ready.) Be careful not to overdo. 
    • Keep your follow-up appointment with your primary care provider or the Trauma Service. 
    • You can return to work when your primary healthcare provider says it’s okay
Warning signs — when to get help 
If you have any of the symptoms below — especially if they are getting worse — call the Trauma Service or go to the nearest emergency department
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness 
  • Rapid heartbeat or trouble breathing 
  • Increased pain in your abdomen 
  • Fever of 102°F or higher 
  • Swelling in your abdomen, feeling overly full 
  • Yellowing of your eyes or skin 
  • Nausea or vomiting that doesn’t get better 
  • Trouble with urinating or emptying your bowels
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