Enlarged Spleen (Splenomegaly)

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Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly) facts

  • An enlarged spleen is not normal and occurs as a consequence of another underlying disease.
  • An enlarged spleen is caused by
  • Signs of an enlarged spleen are usually due to underlying causes and may include
  • Symptoms of an enlarged spleen are usually due to the underlying disease or condition causing it; however, those individuals who do have symptoms may experience
    • indigestion and a feeling of fullness because the enlarged spleen can compress the stomach,
    • hiccups because of diaphragm irritation
    • pain in the upper abdomen that may radiate to the back or shoulder blade.
  • Diagnosis of an enlarged spleen is often made by physical examination or by X-rays, CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound
  • Treatment for an enlarged spleen is directed to the care of the underlying condition.
  • Enlarged spleen can be prevented by preventing the underlying illness as best as possible. An enlarged spleen is at risk for damage when it grows beyond the protection given to it by the lower ribs. Activity may need to be restricted to prevent any trauma or damage to the spleen when it is enlarged and vulnerable
  • The prognosis of someone with an enlarged spleen depends upon the underlying condition.

What is the spleen, and what does it do (function)?

The spleen is an important organ in the body that has a variety of responsibilities.

  • It is a major filter of blood, helping remove old and damaged red blood cells, and bacteria.
  • It also is part of the lymphatic system and produces lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that are a part of the immune system that helps to prevent and fight infection.
  • The spleen also acts as a reservoir for red blood cells and platelets, should the body need them.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/12/2015

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Enlarged Spleen Symptoms

Symptoms you may experience with an enlarged spleen include:

  • pressure or pain in the left upper part of your abdomen (near the stomach),
  • feeling full without eating a large meal,
  • or pain your left shoulder blade or shoulder area when taking a deep breath.