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Splenomegaly: When the Spleen Becomes Enlarged

Splenomegaly: When the Spleen Becomes Enlarged
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Splenomegaly

enlarged spleenSplenomegaly is the medical term for an enlarged spleen. The spleen is normally the size of a clenched fist, but it may become enlarged as the result of an underlying condition or trauma. Splenomegaly can be very mild, where the patient does not even notice the enlargement. It can also be severe, in which the spleen becomes so enlarged that it eventually ruptures. These cases are medical emergencies that require immediate treatment.


What Causes Splenomegaly?

Splenomegaly can be the result of a short-lived illness, chronic condition, or bodily trauma. All of the following can cause an enlarged spleen:

  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Endocarditis
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hepatitis
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Abdominal Trauma
  • Gaucher’s Disease
  • Amyloidosis
  • Hemolytic Anemia
  • Sickle Cell Disease
  • Thalassemia
  • Spherocytosis
  • Portal Hypertension
  • Liver Disease
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Cancer That Has Metastasized to the Spleen
  • Hurler Syndrome
  • Niemann-Pick Disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Malaria
  • Anaplasmosis

Types Of Splenomegaly

There is only one type of splenomegaly.

splenomegaly

Splenomegaly Symptoms

  • Indigestion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Poor appetite
  • Hiccups
  • Back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Easy bruising
  • Heavy menstrual periods

Diagnosing Splenomegaly

A primary care physician can diagnose splenomegaly. Patients with mild splenomegaly may not even suspect that they have an enlarged spleen, but will discover it consequently through testing for other symptoms they are likely having. Diagnostic imaging of the abdomen, such as a CT scan or MRI, often reveals an enlarged spleen and your doctor will likely order other tests to determine the underlying cause of the splenomegaly. Patients with more pronounced splenomegaly will often have severe pain that will send them to the emergency room, in which case splenomegaly should be diagnosed immediately through diagnostic imaging.

splenomegaly diagnosis

Treating Splenomegaly

Mild cases of splenomegaly typically resolve once the underlying cause is treated. In moderate to severe cases, a splenectomy may need to be performed promptly before the spleen has any further time to enlarge more. A splenectomy is a surgical procedure in which the enlarged spleen is removed.

 

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