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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.