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Splenomegaly

Definition

Splenomegaly is a larger-than-normal spleen.

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 on the upper left side of the abdomen

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 cause the spleen to rupture. You should avoid contact sports.

Your doctor or nurse 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. Some people have pain in the left upper part of the belly area (abdomen). You should seek medical help right away if it is severe or gets worse when you take a deep breath.

What to Expect at Your Office Visit

The health care provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history.

A physical exam will be done. This will include feeling your abdomen. The health care provider will tap along the left upper part of your abdomen and feel in that same area, especially just under the rib cage.

Tests that may be done include:

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

References

Armitage JO. Approach to the patient with lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 171.


Review Date: 2/24/2014
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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