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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. It also plays a role in immune function.

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

In rare cases, an injury can rupture the spleen. If you have splenomegaly, your health care provider may advise you to avoid contact sports. Your 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

Winter JN. Approach to the patient with lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 159.

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.

Vos PM, Mathieson JR, Cooperberg PL. The spleen. In: Rumack CM, Levine D, eds. Diagnostic Ultrasound. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 5.


Review Date: 2/6/2020
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, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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