Medical Definition of Asplenia

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/11/2018

Asplenia: The absence of a spleen or one that functions. (The spleen can be functionally destroyed, as occurs in patients with sickle cell disease.)

The spleen, an organ located in the upper left part of the abdomen near the stomach, produces lymphocytes, filters blood, serves as a major reservoir for blood, destroys blood cells that are aged, and has an important function in the filtering, phagocytosis (engulfing) and removal of bacteria from the bloodstream. Asplenic patients run a significantly increased risk of severe sepsis (bloodstream infection), especially from the pneumococcus bacterium.

The prefix "a-" comes from the Greek meaning "not."

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018