Enlarged Spleen (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What are other signs and symptoms of an enlarged spleen?

Often, it is not the splenomegaly itself that causes symptoms, but rather it is the symptoms of the underlying illness that causes splenomegaly. Individuals may develop weakness, fatigue and shortness of breath due to anemia (low red blood cell count). Bleeding may be due to thrombocytopenia (low platelet count). Infections may be more prevalent because of ineffective white blood cell function.

How is the diagnosis of an enlarged spleen made?

An enlarged spleen is most often found on physical examination. Either the health care practitioner is looking for an enlarged spleen because of a diagnosis that has already been made, or it is found incidentally when initially examining a patient (and it then serves as a clue to an underlying diagnosis).

With its location protected, beneath the left lower ribs, a normal spleen is usually not felt on physical exam, except in some unusually thin patients. As it enlarges, the spleen grows from the left upper quadrant of the abdomen towards the umbilicus (the belly button). Sometimes the doctor will ask the patient to roll on their right side to better attempt to feel the spleen. An enlarged spleen may not be able to be felt in obese patients.

On occasion, an enlarged spleen may be diagnosed by plain X-ray, ultrasound, abdominal CT scan, or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging).

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/3/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Enlarged Spleen - Cause Question: What caused your case of an enlarged spleen?
Enlarged Spleen - Symptoms Question: What symptoms did you experience with an enlarged spleen?
Enlarged Spleen - Treatment Question: What treatments were effective for your case of enlarged spleen?
Enlarged Spleen - Complications Question: What complications did you have with an enlarged spleen?