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What complications are associated with an enlarged spleen?
Perhaps the most important worry with an enlarged spleen is the risk of
injury as it grows beyond the protection of the rib cage. A minor injury may
cause it to rupture and bleed. Spleen injuries are often treated by
observation, but on occasion, the spleen can rupture causing life-threatening
requiring surgery for to remove the spleen. This is the reason that teenagers
and young adults diagnosed with infectious mononucleosis need to wait until the
spleen returns to its normal size, and is protected by the rib cage, before
participating in activities where the enlarged spleen could be damaged.
All types of blood cells may become trapped in a large spleen. Anemia (low
red blood cell count) may cause
Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count) may be associated
with an increased risk of bleeding.
Leukopenia (low white blood cell count) may
be associated with an increased risk of infection.
Should the spleen need to be removed surgically (splenectomy), the risk of certain infections
increases, and the patient will need to make certain
that their immunizations are up to date, especially against
meningococcus and haemophilus influenzae.