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Enlarged Spleen (cont.)

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What type of pain, and where is the pain located with an enlarged spleen?

  • Because of its location, should it enlarge, the spleen can irritate the diaphragm and cause hiccups and perhaps some pain in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen.
  • Because its location adjacent to the diaphragm, pain from the spleen may radiate to the back and be felt in the shoulder blade.
  • If the enlarged spleen compresses the stomach the person may feel full after eating a small amount, and therefore are unable to eat large meals.

What are other signs and symptoms of an enlarged spleen?

Often, it is not the enlarged spleen itself that causes symptoms, but rather it is the symptoms of the underlying illness that causes splenomegaly.

  • Due to anemia, individuals may develop
    • weakness,
    • fatigue and
    • shortness of breath.
  • Bleeding may occur spontaneously due to thrombocytopenia (low platelet count).
  • Infections may occur more often because of ineffective white blood cell function.

Where is the spleen, and what does it look like?

The spleen is located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen, just beneath the diaphragm and next to the stomach. It has a very rich blood supply since it is responsible for filtering blood, and it is protected by the 9th, 10th, and 11th ribs. Normally, it is the size of an orange or a small fist.

The spleen has two types of tissue; the red pulp is responsible for filtering blood, while the white pulp is responsible for its immune function.

Picture of the spleen
Picture of the spleen
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/12/2016


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