Spleen is a small organ situated below the left side of the rib cage and adjacent to stomach. It regulates and maintains the formation of white cells, red cells and platelets; platelets help the blood to clot.
Enlargement of spleen is called splenomegaly. An enlarged spleen, even though slight, warrants attention.
The spleen in normal circumstances is about the size of a fist. Doctors cannot feel a normal spleen during the examination. But it can be palpated when it is enlarged.
Type of Enlargement
Slight Enlargement (0-4cm)
- Typhoid fever.
- Bacterial endocarditis.
- Acute malaria.
- Viral infection.
- Congestive heart failure.
Moderate Enlargement: (4-8cm)
- Hemolytic anemia
- Infectious mononucleosis
- Chronic hepatitis.
- Acute leukemia.
- Chronic lymphatic leukemia.
Massive Enlargement (More Than 8 Cm)
- Chronic malaria
- Chronic myeloid leukemia.
- Polycythemia vera.
- Thalassaemia major.
Symptoms of Spleen Enlargement
- If the enlargement of spleen is massive, it will cause pain in the left upper side of abdomen and in the back.
- Fullness of stomach even if you eat a small meal. This Is Due To Its Pressure On The Stomach.
- Weight loss
- Bleeding on slightest injury.
Enlarged Spleen Diagnosis
- Mild splenomegaly is missed if the patient is obese.
- Ultra sonogram of abdomen and CT imaging will confirm the enlargement of spleen.
- Imaging techniques are useful in differentiating various conditions such as splenic hematoma, cysts, tumors and infarction
Enlarged Spleen Treatment
- Treating the underlying cause will reduce the enlarged spleen in many cases.
- Patient should take care not to hurt spleen or else it will bleed. This condition if occurs is sometimes life threatening.
- Splenectomy is advised in some cases. The spleen is removed by laparoscopic surgery.
- The dangers of post splenectomy infections, though small, are real. Pneumococcal vaccination before planned spleen surgery is useful, especially in children.