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HomeHealth articlesspleen disordersWhat Is Splenomegaly?

Splenomegaly - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Splenomegaly is the enlargement of the spleen. It can occur due to infection or underlying diseases. Refer to this article to know more in detail.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Shaikh Sadaf

Published At January 4, 2023
Reviewed AtMay 9, 2024


The spleen is a fist-sized organ in the top left portion of the abdomen, below the left-rib cage. The spleen belongs to the lymphatic and immune systems. A healthy spleen is around 12 centimeters in length and 70 grams in weight. An enlarged spleen can be around 20 centimeters in length, and the weight can be higher than 1000 grams. Numerous factors can induce the spleen's enlargement, including inflammation, fat deposition, blood pooling, benign or malignant growth, and increased cell growth or production. Certain reasons are transient, and some may reveal an established or advanced condition.

What Is Splenomegaly?

Splenomegaly is the spleen's enlargement estimated by weight or dimensions. The spleen has an important part in hematopoiesis and the immune system. The spleen's primary action involves removing abnormal erythrocytes and their remains, opsonized platelets and white blood cells, and expulsing microorganisms.

The spleen functions as a secondary lymphoid organ and is the place for the development and warehouse of T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes, acting a significant part in the formation of immunoglobulin G (IgG) by mature B-lymphocytes upon interacting with the T-lymphocytes. The spleen also produces the immune system peptides- properdin and tuftsin. Some amount of circulating platelets is reserved in the spleen. The standard location of the spleen is within the peritoneal cavity in the left top quadrant adjoining ribs nine via 12. The standard-sized spleen connects the abdomen, colon, and left kidney.

The spleen dimension may alter and associate with a person's weight, height, and gender, with bigger spleen dimensions, noticed in males compared to females and in fattier or taller people. A typically measured spleen estimates up to 12 centimeters in craniocaudal length. A length of 12 centimeters to 20 centimeters denotes splenomegaly, and a length of more than 20 centimeters is the standard of immense splenomegaly.

The typical weight of the adult spleen is 70 grams to 200 grams. If the measurement exceeds 400 grams to 500 grams demonstrates splenomegaly, and a spleen weight of more than 1000 grams is an absolute of immense splenomegaly. The standard-sized spleen is typically not palpable in grown-ups.

Nevertheless, it can be palpable due to alterations in body habitus and anatomy of the chest barrier. Splenomegaly may be analyzed clinically or radiographically using ultrasound, computed tomography, or magnetic resonance imaging. Splenomegaly may be a temporary situation due to acute illness or can be because of severe acute or chronic disease.

What Are the Symptoms of Splenomegaly?

  • An ache in the top left portion of the abdomen.

  • Anemia.

  • Infections.

  • Bleeding.

What Are the Causes of Splenomegaly?

  • Liver disorders.

  • Malignancy in hematology and neoplastic cells.

  • Thrombosis.

  • Infections- acute or chronic.

  • Disorders of the connective tissues.

  • Hemangioma-like focal lesions.

How Is Splenomegaly Evaluated?

Various serum testing and imaging studies can help diagnose splenomegaly and the underlying reason. Abnormality in the complete blood cell counts and morphology, involving white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, will alter depending on the underlying disorder condition. Anomalies in liver function tests, lipase, rheumatologic section, and disease-precise infectious testing help diagnose causative diseases.

Hypersplenism may occur with conditions like leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and other conditions.

  • Imaging tests can be utilized to analyze splenomegaly and clarify its underlying reason. When computed tomography imaging estimates, the spleen has a comparable attenuation as the liver. Along with analyzing splenomegaly, abdominal computed tomography may analyze splenic abscesses, any other lesions, vascular anomalies, inflammatory transitions, intra-abdominal lymphadenopathy, or liver anomalies.

  • Ultrasound is a valuable imaging technique in estimating the spleen and limiting radiation exposure from computed tomography imaging. Regular spleen dimensions measured through ultrasound are below thirteen centimeters superior to the lower axis, six centimeters to seven centimeters in the medial to the lateral axis, and five centimeters to six centimeters in the anterior to the posterior plane.

  • In particular circumstances, magnetic resonance imaging, liver-spleen colloid scanning, spleen removal, and biopsy may be suggested.

What Is the Treatment of Splenomegaly?

Therapy of splenomegaly is done to treat the underlying condition and save the cases from the difficulties of splenomegaly itself. Cases with splenomegaly are at raised risk of splenic fracture, and improved attention is done to safeguard the patient from abdomina injury.

Therapy varies from abdominal injury prevention in healthy cases with splenomegaly because of infectious mononucleosis to splenectomy of an enlarged spleen in cases with hairy cell leukemia. Likewise, the prediction is based on the underlying disorder condition.

Splenic sequestration in sickle cell anemia is usually controlled with blood transfusions or exchange transfusions. Periodically splenectomy is needed for Immune thrombocytopenia (ITP). Inferior-dose radiation treatment can also constrict the spleen dimensions in cases with primary myelofibrosis.

People undergoing splenectomy have a higher chance of infections due to encapsulated microorganisms like "Haemophilus Influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, and Neisseria meningitides." Immunization against these microorganisms is advised in those who have undergone splenectomy. Detailed awareness must be delivered to post-splenectomy cases showing febrile illnesses as they may need additional aggressive, empiric antibiotic treatment.

What Are the Complications of Splenomegaly?

Splenic break or fracture is the most worrying complication of splenomegaly. Patients are instructed to control high-impact or connection sports to reduce this threat. Cytopenias that occur due to splenomegaly are an additional possible complication. Most of these can be reduced with splenectomy if revealed.


Patients with this condition are excellently treated by an interprofessional group that contains a radiologist, a hematologist, an oncologist, a general surgeon, a nurse, and occasionally other professionals like a rheumatologist and a gastroenterologist. As a result of the increased chance of fracture, giving proper instruction and educating them is essential, and contact sports should be evaded in patients with splenomegaly.

The nurse in charge should familiarize the patient with the chance of infections if they have done a splenectomy. Immunization against encapsulated microorganisms is seriously suggested before the splenectomy procedure. All cases with a splenectomy should have a medical alert bracelet presenting the lack of a spleen. Antibiotic prophylaxis is suggested in post-splenectomy cases experiencing surgical approaches. All cases with splenomegaly should be instructed about the manifestations of splenic fracture and when to pursue medical assistance. Unlike a normal spleen, an enlarged spleen that has ruptured cannot be managed with observation. Close cooperation with the team members is significant to provide good outcomes for cases without a spleen. Most patients have satisfactory results after splenectomy.

Dr. Shaikh Sadaf
Dr. Shaikh Sadaf



spleen disorders
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