Spleen enlargement is a disorder that can occur due to various reasons and can lead to serious consequences. We can say that the spleen, located in the upper left side of the abdomen, has an extremely important place in the body’s defense system. This organ, which has a spongy structure, is located exactly between the stomach and the diaphragm. We will touch on all critical issues such as the factors that cause enlargement in the spleen, surgery and treatment options. However, it will be useful to get to know this organ better and understand what it does.
What is the spleen, what does it do?
The spleen is one of the organs that play an important role in the functioning of the body. For example, when babies are in the womb, the organ where red blood cells are made is the spleen, and the bone marrow takes over after a certain period of pregnancy. In cases where the bone marrow cannot produce red blood cells for various reasons, the spleen can reactivate and take over this important and vital task.
At the same time, the spleen cleans the blood. This organ, which plays an important role in the body’s fight against microbes, can also play a role in the body’s production of antibodies against various microorganisms. It is also the spleen that makes lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.
Abnormally shaped or aging red blood cells are broken down by this organ. Due to the tasks it undertakes, spleen growth may occur in many diseases. We can give examples of metabolic diseases, blood diseases and infectious diseases such as malaria. Even the size of the spleen can be used as data in the diagnosis of malaria. In such cases, the spleen must be evacuated from the body. Removing the spleen does not mean that the person will lose his life. It is possible for a person to survive without the spleen.
Why is Spleen Surgery Performed?
Surgery may be required when spleen enlargement occurs due to various diseases and this causes serious discomfort in the patient. However, it should be noted that surgery is mostly considered as a last resort. Doctors use a surgical procedure to protect at least part of the spleen whenever possible. It should be noted that this operation, which is called splenectomy, can also be performed in case of injuries. In which cases the spleen was evacuated from the body, that is, surgical operation was performed, we can list as follows:
- Certain blood diseases such as TTP or ITP
- Spleen cancer
- Some bone marrow diseases
- Overwork of the spleen
- Some metabolic diseases
- Spleen growth of unknown cause
How is Spleen Surgery Performed?
Of course, surgery is performed under anesthesia in cases such as an enlarged spleen or spleen injury. As a result, it is never possible for the patient to feel any pain or cramp. The surgery can be done by open or closed method. If the patient’s condition is suitable, we can state that the surgery is often performed by laparoscopic, i.e. closed method. In the closed method, the healing process of the patient is both more comfortable and shorter. All or part of the spleen is removed by surgery.
What Are The Risks Of Spleen Surgery?
Since every surgical intervention carries some risks, there is also a risk in spleen surgeries. First of all, it should be noted that the risks arising from anesthesia are valid. There is also a risk of bleeding and infection. However, these risks are minimized in operations performed by an experienced surgeon. Antibiotic medication should be used after the operation against the risk of infection. If the doctor’s recommendations are taken into account by the patient, a smooth recovery period can be experienced.
What is Spleen Enlargement?
Spleen enlargement is sometimes noticed in routine examinations in patients, and sometimes it is understood in analyzes made after the patient’s complaints. Growth is due to the loss of function of this organ. The growth of this organ causes not only abnormal but also normal blood cells to be filtered. Platelets are also excessively trapped in the circulatory system. As a result, blood flow is also negatively affected by the growth of this organ. In the absence of intervention, many different diseases may occur and the patient’s complaints increase.
What are the Symptoms of Spleen Enlargement?
Spleen enlargement in patients manifests itself with various symptoms. We can briefly summarize the most common symptoms as follows:
- Feeling tired all the time
- Bleeding can occur easily
- Infections occur frequently
- Pain radiating from the left upper abdomen to the left shoulder
- Getting full with a small amount of food and feeling bloated after eating
When one or more of these symptoms occur, a doctor should be consulted immediately.
Causes Spleen Enlargement?
Many different factors can reveal the spleen enlargement picture. Let’s cite these reasons immediately:
- Some viral infections
- Bacterial infections
- Parasitic infections such as malaria
- Cirrhosis and diseases affecting the liver
- Some types of hemolytic anemia
- Some metabolic disorders (Gaucher disease, Niemann-Pick disease etc.)
- Blood clots in the veins
Of course, these ailments can commonly cause the problem in question. However, we should state that this problem can be experienced due to some specific situations.
What are the Risk Factors for Enlarged Spleen?
Among the public, this problem is thought to occur in later ages. However, this problem can be experienced at any age. However, it is necessary to mention some risk factors at this point. Here are a few examples of who is at risk:
- People with mononucleosis infection (including children and adolescents)
- People with Gaucher disease
- People with Niemann-Pick disease
- People with some inherited metabolic diseases that affect the liver or spleen
- Those who travel to or live in places where malaria is common
How is Spleen Growth Treatment Performed?
First of all, spleen enlargement should focus on the factor that causes this problem. If a bacterial infection causes this problem, drug treatment can be applied. If no symptoms causing your enlargement have been found, your doctor may recommend waiting for a while. As the last solution, surgical operation comes into play.
In this case, part or all of the spleen will have to be removed. Surgery can be a preferred treatment method in chronic or critical situations. Although life can be continued in case of removal of the spleen, much more care should be taken. Because the body will become more susceptible to infections.
What Happens If Spleen Enlargement Is Not Treated?
Especially the question frequently raised by those who do not want to undergo surgery is what will happen if not treated. First of all, let us state that the risk of infection can occur very seriously. Because of the enlargement of the spleen, blood circulation is negatively affected. The number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in circulation decreases. This often leads to infection.
Accordingly, anemia and bleeding may occur. Spleen rupture is another complication risk. A rupture of the spleen can lead to life-threatening bleeding in the abdominal cavity. For this reason, treatment must be done and if necessary, surgical intervention must be performed.
What Causes Spleen Growth?
Spleen growth, which is a condition that must be intervened, can have negative effects especially on the body’s blood circulation system. This seriously increases the risk of developing dozens of different ailments. We are not talking that every spleen enlargement will necessarily result in disease or surgery. However, the factor causing growth should be determined. You can write your questions about the subject in the comment section.