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Splenomegaly

Definition

Splenomegaly is a larger-than-normal spleen. The spleen is an organ in the upper left part of the belly.

Alternative Names

Spleen enlargement; Enlarged spleen; Spleen swelling

Considerations

The spleen is an organ that is a part of the lymph system. The spleen filters the blood and maintains healthy red and white blood cells and platelets.

Many health conditions can affect the spleen. These include:

  • Diseases of the blood or lymph system
  • Infections
  • Cancer
  • Liver disease

Symptoms of splenomegaly include:

  • Hiccups
  • Inability to eat a large meal
  • Pain in the upper left side of the belly

Causes

Splenomegaly can be caused by any of the following:

  • Infections
  • Liver diseases
  • Blood diseases
  • Cancer

Home Care

It is important to prevent injury that might rupture your spleen. You should avoid contact sports.

Your health care provider will tell you what else you need to do to take care of yourself and any medical condition.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

There are usually no symptoms from an enlarged spleen. Seek medical help right away if pain in your belly is severe or gets worse when you take a deep breath.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history.

A physical exam will be done. The provider will feel and tap along the upper left part of your belly, especially just under the rib cage.

Tests that may be done include:

  • Abdominal x-ray, ultrasound, or CT scan
  • Blood tests, such as a complete blood count (CBC) and tests of your liver function 

Treatment depends on the cause of splenomegaly.

References

Armitage JO, Bierman PJ. Approach to the patient with lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 168.

Hertzberg BS, Middleton WD. Spleen. In: Hertzberg BS, Middleton WD, eds. Ultrasound: The Requisites. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 8.

Vos PM, Barnard SA, Cooperberg PL. Benign and malignant lesions of the spleen. In: Gore RM, Levine MS, eds. Textbook of Gastrointestinal Radiology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 105.



Review Date: 2/12/2016
Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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