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Disorders of Spleen

Spleen is a ductless and vascular organ that is located in the cardiac end of the belly. The size of this spleen is as big as the fist. Being a part of lymphatic system, this organ serves in mature-lymphocyte formation, damaged red blood cell destruction. It also acts as a blood reservoir. In short, the spleen aids in fighting against infection. Irregularities in the spleen of mainly 3 types: ruptured spleen, enlarged spleen, wandering spleen. Among them, an enlarged spleen is the most widely witnessed spleen disorder.

Enlarged spleen: This condition is medically referred to as splenomegaly. An enlarged spleen cannot be always thought of as a problematic condition. Inflammation/swelling of the spleen can also happen when the spleen becomes overactive. Such a situation occurs when there is more necessity in destructing and removing the blood cells. This phenomenon is known as hypersplenism. Not much symptoms are present for this conditions. Also if some symptoms are pronounced, they can be falsely mistaken as the precursors of other diseases. The common symptoms include:

  • Pain in upper left abdomen, shoulder or even back.
  • Fullness of the stomach devoid of consumption.
  • Singultus.

The main causes of an enlarged spleen can be various kinds of infections. The infections can be viral, parasitic or bacterial. Certain kinds of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis etc can also cause splenomegaly. Sometimes, a cyst or a large abscess in the nearby area of the spleen can act as a source of infection.

The phenomenon of a wandering spleen is also called displaced spleen, floating spleen, drifting spleen etc. Spleen like any other organ, also have supportive ligaments associated with it. Certain birth defects occur in which the ligaments that support the spleen in the upper left abdomen seem to be missing. In this case, the spleen is supported by blood vessels called vascular pedicle. Any distortion of the pedicle during spleen movement can result in infarction (severe damage) of the blood vessels. The supportive structures are now absent and the spleen is left free. This results in what is called as a wandering spleen.

Splenic rupture or a ruptured spleen is a condition that is regarded as an emergency. Such a condition arises when there is a cleavage in the covering of the spleen. Traumatic conditions such as a deadly blow can result in this condition. Excluding these emergency conditions, certain medical conditions can also lead to such a condition. Some of them are infectious mononucleosis, malaria, hematological diseases etc. When these conditions develop, the spleen becomes swollen as a result of which the covering becomes very thin. The covering happens to be fragile and is easily susceptible to cracks.

Symptoms of ruptured spleen shall include confusion, blurred vision, fainting etc.

One has to resort to a comprehensive physical exam for a proper diagnosis. On examining the abdomen, certain areas may be swollen and hard. In the case of a bleeding in the spleen, the excessive blood loss can result in the decrease the blood pressure rate and heart rate. A CT (Computerized Tomography) scan is the commonly performed diagnostic methods. A contrast injected into the bloodstream shall help in determining the amount of bleeding present.