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Splenomegaly

Splenomegaly is pathologic enlargement of the spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy that is attributable to numerous causes, including infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease, hemoglobinopathies Hemoglobinopathies A group of inherited disorders characterized by structural alterations within the hemoglobin molecule. Anemia: Overview and Types, infiltrative processes, and outflow obstruction of the portal vein Portal vein A short thick vein formed by union of the superior mesenteric vein and the splenic vein. Liver: Anatomy. Aside from risks associated with the underlying pathology, enlargement of the spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy puts affected individuals at increased risk of splenic rupture Splenic rupture Splenic rupture is a medical emergency that carries a significant risk of hypovolemic shock and death. Injury to the spleen accounts for nearly half of all injuries to intra-abdominal organs. The most common reason for a rupture of the spleen is blunt abdominal trauma, specifically, motor vehicle accidents. Rupture of the Spleen, a potentially fatal medical emergency that can result in hypovolemic shock Shock Shock is a life-threatening condition associated with impaired circulation that results in tissue hypoxia. The different types of shock are based on the underlying cause: distributive (↑ cardiac output (CO), ↓ systemic vascular resistance (SVR)), cardiogenic (↓ CO, ↑ SVR), hypovolemic (↓ CO, ↑ SVR), obstructive (↓ CO), and mixed. Types of Shock.

Last updated: Jul 7, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Overview

The spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy is not considered a vital organ, since the body can survive without it. However, the spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy is the largest lymphoid organ and has an important role in immunity and blood filtration.

Definition

A spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy is considered enlarged when it can be palpated 2 cm below the costal margin or when imaging shows that its size is above the upper limits of normal for age.

Normal physiology

Main functions:

  • Filters the blood, removing old or damaged platelets Platelets Platelets are small cell fragments involved in hemostasis. Thrombopoiesis takes place primarily in the bone marrow through a series of cell differentiation and is influenced by several cytokines. Platelets are formed after fragmentation of the megakaryocyte cytoplasm. Platelets: Histology and RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology
  • Acts as a reservoir Reservoir Animate or inanimate sources which normally harbor disease-causing organisms and thus serve as potential sources of disease outbreaks. Reservoirs are distinguished from vectors (disease vectors) and carriers, which are agents of disease transmission rather than continuing sources of potential disease outbreaks. Humans may serve both as disease reservoirs and carriers. Escherichia coli for blood elements
  • Filters and destroys encapsulated Encapsulated Klebsiella bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology circulating in blood
  • Produces lymphocytes Lymphocytes Lymphocytes are heterogeneous WBCs involved in immune response. Lymphocytes develop from the bone marrow, starting from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and progressing to common lymphoid progenitors (CLPs). B and T lymphocytes and natural killer (NK) cells arise from the lineage. Lymphocytes: Histology and synthesizes antibodies Antibodies Immunoglobulins (Igs), also known as antibodies, are glycoprotein molecules produced by plasma cells that act in immune responses by recognizing and binding particular antigens. The various Ig classes are IgG (the most abundant), IgM, IgE, IgD, and IgA, which differ in their biologic features, structure, target specificity, and distribution. Immunoglobulins: Types and Functions

Blood enters the spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy via the splenic artery branching into central arterioles Arterioles The smallest divisions of the arteries located between the muscular arteries and the capillaries. Arteries: Histology:

  1. Arterioles Arterioles The smallest divisions of the arteries located between the muscular arteries and the capillaries. Arteries: Histology end as capillaries Capillaries Capillaries are the primary structures in the circulatory system that allow the exchange of gas, nutrients, and other materials between the blood and the extracellular fluid (ECF). Capillaries are the smallest of the blood vessels. Because a capillary diameter is so small, only 1 RBC may pass through at a time. Capillaries: Histology surrounded by lymphatic tissue ( white pulp White pulp Secondary Lymphatic Organs).
  2. White pulp White pulp Secondary Lymphatic Organs has 3 structural elements responsible for mounting an immune response and antibody production:
    • Periarteriolar lymphocyte sheath ( PALS PALS Secondary Lymphatic Organs): houses T cells T cells Lymphocytes responsible for cell-mediated immunity. Two types have been identified – cytotoxic (t-lymphocytes, cytotoxic) and helper T-lymphocytes (t-lymphocytes, helper-inducer). They are formed when lymphocytes circulate through the thymus gland and differentiate to thymocytes. When exposed to an antigen, they divide rapidly and produce large numbers of new T cells sensitized to that antigen. T cells: Types and Functions and macrophages Macrophages The relatively long-lived phagocytic cell of mammalian tissues that are derived from blood monocytes. Main types are peritoneal macrophages; alveolar macrophages; histiocytes; kupffer cells of the liver; and osteoclasts. They may further differentiate within chronic inflammatory lesions to epithelioid cells or may fuse to form foreign body giant cells or langhans giant cells. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation
    • Marginal zone Marginal zone MALT Lymphoma: houses macrophages Macrophages The relatively long-lived phagocytic cell of mammalian tissues that are derived from blood monocytes. Main types are peritoneal macrophages; alveolar macrophages; histiocytes; kupffer cells of the liver; and osteoclasts. They may further differentiate within chronic inflammatory lesions to epithelioid cells or may fuse to form foreign body giant cells or langhans giant cells. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation
    • Follicles: house B cells B cells Lymphoid cells concerned with humoral immunity. They are short-lived cells resembling bursa-derived lymphocytes of birds in their production of immunoglobulin upon appropriate stimulation. B cells: Types and Functions
  3. Blood flows out of capillaries Capillaries Capillaries are the primary structures in the circulatory system that allow the exchange of gas, nutrients, and other materials between the blood and the extracellular fluid (ECF). Capillaries are the smallest of the blood vessels. Because a capillary diameter is so small, only 1 RBC may pass through at a time. Capillaries: Histology into surrounding venous sinusoids Sinusoids Liver: Anatomy and cords ( red pulp Red pulp Secondary Lymphatic Organs).
  4. Red pulp Red pulp Secondary Lymphatic Organs is the storage site for platelets Platelets Platelets are small cell fragments involved in hemostasis. Thrombopoiesis takes place primarily in the bone marrow through a series of cell differentiation and is influenced by several cytokines. Platelets are formed after fragmentation of the megakaryocyte cytoplasm. Platelets: Histology and contains macrophages Macrophages The relatively long-lived phagocytic cell of mammalian tissues that are derived from blood monocytes. Main types are peritoneal macrophages; alveolar macrophages; histiocytes; kupffer cells of the liver; and osteoclasts. They may further differentiate within chronic inflammatory lesions to epithelioid cells or may fuse to form foreign body giant cells or langhans giant cells. Innate Immunity: Phagocytes and Antigen Presentation that remove damaged or old RBCs RBCs Erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), are the most abundant cells in the blood. While erythrocytes in the fetus are initially produced in the yolk sac then the liver, the bone marrow eventually becomes the main site of production. Erythrocytes: Histology.
  5. Sinusoids Sinusoids Liver: Anatomy drain into collecting veins Veins Veins are tubular collections of cells, which transport deoxygenated blood and waste from the capillary beds back to the heart. Veins are classified into 3 types: small veins/venules, medium veins, and large veins. Each type contains 3 primary layers: tunica intima, tunica media, and tunica adventitia. Veins: Histology, which carry blood to the splenic vein.
  6. Filtered blood exits the spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy via the splenic vein.
  7. The splenic vein joins the superior and inferior mesenteric veins Veins Veins are tubular collections of cells, which transport deoxygenated blood and waste from the capillary beds back to the heart. Veins are classified into 3 types: small veins/venules, medium veins, and large veins. Each type contains 3 primary layers: tunica intima, tunica media, and tunica adventitia. Veins: Histology to form the hepatic portal vein Portal vein A short thick vein formed by union of the superior mesenteric vein and the splenic vein. Liver: Anatomy.

Pathophysiology

  • Splenomegaly: enlargement of the spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy
    • 3 general mechanisms:
      • Passive congestion via compromise of hepatic portal vein Portal vein A short thick vein formed by union of the superior mesenteric vein and the splenic vein. Liver: Anatomy 
      • Infiltration
      • Infection 
    • Splenomegaly can eventually lead to splenic rupture Splenic rupture Splenic rupture is a medical emergency that carries a significant risk of hypovolemic shock and death. Injury to the spleen accounts for nearly half of all injuries to intra-abdominal organs. The most common reason for a rupture of the spleen is blunt abdominal trauma, specifically, motor vehicle accidents. Rupture of the Spleen.
  • Hypersplenism: increased functioning of the spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy that occurs with or without organ enlargement
    • Sequestration of blood elements leads to congestion.
    • Activation of reticuloendothelial system leads to thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia occurs when the platelet count is < 150,000 per microliter. The normal range for platelets is usually 150,000-450,000/µL of whole blood. Thrombocytopenia can be a result of decreased production, increased destruction, or splenic sequestration of platelets. Patients are often asymptomatic until platelet counts are < 50,000/µL. Thrombocytopenia and anemia Anemia Anemia is a condition in which individuals have low Hb levels, which can arise from various causes. Anemia is accompanied by a reduced number of RBCs and may manifest with fatigue, shortness of breath, pallor, and weakness. Subtypes are classified by the size of RBCs, chronicity, and etiology. Anemia: Overview and Types.
    • Increased risk of splenic rupture Splenic rupture Splenic rupture is a medical emergency that carries a significant risk of hypovolemic shock and death. Injury to the spleen accounts for nearly half of all injuries to intra-abdominal organs. The most common reason for a rupture of the spleen is blunt abdominal trauma, specifically, motor vehicle accidents. Rupture of the Spleen
    • Clinical features:
      • Splenomegaly
      • Anemia Anemia Anemia is a condition in which individuals have low Hb levels, which can arise from various causes. Anemia is accompanied by a reduced number of RBCs and may manifest with fatigue, shortness of breath, pallor, and weakness. Subtypes are classified by the size of RBCs, chronicity, and etiology. Anemia: Overview and Types
      • Leukopenia
      • Thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia Thrombocytopenia occurs when the platelet count is < 150,000 per microliter. The normal range for platelets is usually 150,000-450,000/µL of whole blood. Thrombocytopenia can be a result of decreased production, increased destruction, or splenic sequestration of platelets. Patients are often asymptomatic until platelet counts are < 50,000/µL. Thrombocytopenia
      • Pancytopenia Pancytopenia Deficiency of all three cell elements of the blood, erythrocytes, leukocytes and platelets. Aplastic Anemia 
      • Compensatory bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow hyperplasia Hyperplasia An increase in the number of cells in a tissue or organ without tumor formation. It differs from hypertrophy, which is an increase in bulk without an increase in the number of cells. Cellular Adaptation
Massive splenomegaly

Splenomegaly:
An enlarged spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy can be identified through palpation Palpation Application of fingers with light pressure to the surface of the body to determine consistency of parts beneath in physical diagnosis; includes palpation for determining the outlines of organs. Dermatologic Examination or can seen with advanced imaging methods.

Image by Lecturio.

Epidemiology and Etiology

Epidemiology

  • Up to 5% of U.S. population affected
  • Certain underlying causes associated with specific racial groups:
    • Sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of genetic disorders in which an abnormal Hb molecule (HbS) transforms RBCs into sickle-shaped cells, resulting in chronic anemia, vasoocclusive episodes, pain, and organ damage. Sickle Cell Disease (African Americans)
    • Lysosomal storage diseases (Ashkenazi Jews)
  • Geographic predisposition:
    • Areas with endemic malaria Malaria Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease affecting humans and other animals. Most commonly transmitted via the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito infected with microorganisms of the Plasmodium genus. Patients present with fever, chills, myalgia, headache, and diaphoresis. Plasmodium/Malaria
    • Tropical splenomegaly 2 times more common in women
  • Certain causes more likely in particular age groups:
    • Children: acute leukemia and storage diseases
    • Adults: chronic leukemia

Etiology

  • Hematologic:
    • Polycythemia vera Polycythemia vera Polycythemia vera (PV) is a chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by the overproduction of RBCs. In addition, the WBC and platelet counts are also increased, which differentiate PV from erythrocytosis seen with chronic hypoxia and other chronic conditions. Polycythemia Vera 
    • Anemia Anemia Anemia is a condition in which individuals have low Hb levels, which can arise from various causes. Anemia is accompanied by a reduced number of RBCs and may manifest with fatigue, shortness of breath, pallor, and weakness. Subtypes are classified by the size of RBCs, chronicity, and etiology. Anemia: Overview and Types
    • Sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of genetic disorders in which an abnormal Hb molecule (HbS) transforms RBCs into sickle-shaped cells, resulting in chronic anemia, vasoocclusive episodes, pain, and organ damage. Sickle Cell Disease
    • Thalassemia Thalassemia Thalassemia is a hereditary cause of microcytic hypochromic anemia and results from a deficiency in either the α or β globin chains, resulting in hemoglobinopathy. The presentation of thalassemia depends on the number of defective chains present and can range from being asymptomatic to rendering the more severely affected patients to be transfusion dependent. Thalassemia
  • Oncologic:
    • Leukemia: 
      • CML CML Chronic myeloid leukemia is a malignant proliferation of the granulocytic cell line characterized by a fairly normal differentiation. The underlying genetic abnormality is the Philadelphia chromosome, an abbreviated chromosome 22, resulting from reciprocal (9;22)(q34;q11) translocation. Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
      • CLL CLL Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a hematologic malignancy characterized by excess production of monoclonal B lymphocytes in the peripheral blood. When the involvement is primarily nodal, the condition is called small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL). The disease usually presents in older adults, with a median age of 70 years. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
    • Lymphoma Lymphoma A general term for various neoplastic diseases of the lymphoid tissue. Imaging of the Mediastinum
    • Metastases
  • Hepatic:
    • Cirrhosis Cirrhosis Cirrhosis is a late stage of hepatic parenchymal necrosis and scarring (fibrosis) most commonly due to hepatitis C infection and alcoholic liver disease. Patients may present with jaundice, ascites, and hepatosplenomegaly. Cirrhosis can also cause complications such as hepatic encephalopathy, portal hypertension, portal vein thrombosis, and hepatorenal syndrome. Cirrhosis
    • Portal vein Portal vein A short thick vein formed by union of the superior mesenteric vein and the splenic vein. Liver: Anatomy hypertension Hypertension Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common disease that manifests as elevated systemic arterial pressures. Hypertension is most often asymptomatic and is found incidentally as part of a routine physical examination or during triage for an unrelated medical encounter. Hypertension
    • Portal or splenic vein thrombosis Splenic Vein Thrombosis Portal Hypertension
    • Right heart failure Heart Failure A heterogeneous condition in which the heart is unable to pump out sufficient blood to meet the metabolic need of the body. Heart failure can be caused by structural defects, functional abnormalities (ventricular dysfunction), or a sudden overload beyond its capacity. Chronic heart failure is more common than acute heart failure which results from sudden insult to cardiac function, such as myocardial infarction. Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Return (TAPVR)
  • Storage diseases:
    • Gaucher disease Gaucher disease Gaucher Disease (GD) is an autosomal recessive lysosomal storage disorder caused by a deficiency of glucocerebrosidase enzyme activity, resulting in accumulation of glucocerebroside in cells and certain organs. The disease is categorized into 3 types with variable clinical presentation. Gaucher Disease
    • Niemann-Pick disease Niemann-Pick disease Niemann-Pick disease (NPD) is a rare, inherited, lysosomal storage disorder. The disease is classified on the basis of the genetic mutation. Type A and type B result from mutations in the SMPD-1 gene, resulting in acid sphingomyelinase enzyme deficiency. Type C results from NPC1 or NPC2 gene mutations, which are needed for intracellular transport of lipids. Niemann-Pick Disease
  • Autoimmune diseases Autoimmune diseases Disorders that are characterized by the production of antibodies that react with host tissues or immune effector cells that are autoreactive to endogenous peptides. Selective IgA Deficiency
    • Sarcoidosis Sarcoidosis Sarcoidosis is a multisystem inflammatory disease that causes noncaseating granulomas. The exact etiology is unknown. Sarcoidosis usually affects the lungs and thoracic lymph nodes, but it can also affect almost every system in the body, including the skin, heart, and eyes, most commonly. Sarcoidosis
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus Systemic lupus erythematosus Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory condition that causes immune-complex deposition in organs, resulting in systemic manifestations. Women, particularly those of African American descent, are more commonly affected. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus ( SLE SLE Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory condition that causes immune-complex deposition in organs, resulting in systemic manifestations. Women, particularly those of African American descent, are more commonly affected. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus)
    • Rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a symmetric, inflammatory polyarthritis and chronic, progressive, autoimmune disorder. Presentation occurs most commonly in middle-aged women with joint swelling, pain, and morning stiffness (often in the hands). Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  • Infectious Infectious Febrile Infant:
    • Infectious Infectious Febrile Infant mononucleosis Mononucleosis Infectious mononucleosis (IM), also known as “the kissing disease,” is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Its common name is derived from its main method of transmission: the spread of infected saliva via kissing. Clinical manifestations of IM include fever, tonsillar pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy. Mononucleosis ( EBV EBV Epstein-barr virus (EBV) is a linear, double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the herpesviridae family. This highly prevalent virus is mostly transmitted through contact with oropharyngeal secretions from an infected individual. The virus can infect epithelial cells and B lymphocytes, where it can undergo lytic replication or latency. Epstein-Barr Virus)
    • Malaria Malaria Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease affecting humans and other animals. Most commonly transmitted via the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito infected with microorganisms of the Plasmodium genus. Patients present with fever, chills, myalgia, headache, and diaphoresis. Plasmodium/Malaria
    • Typhoid Typhoid Typhoid (or enteric) fever is a severe, systemic bacterial infection classically caused by the facultative intracellular and Gram-negative bacilli Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi (S. Typhimurium, formerly S. typhi). S. paratyphi serotypes A, B, or C can cause a similar syndrome. Enteric Fever (Typhoid Fever)
    • AIDS AIDS Chronic HIV infection and depletion of CD4 cells eventually results in acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), which can be diagnosed by the presence of certain opportunistic diseases called AIDS-defining conditions. These conditions include a wide spectrum of bacterial, viral, fungal, and parasitic infections as well as several malignancies and generalized conditions. HIV Infection and AIDS
    • Parasitic infections Infections Invasion of the host organism by microorganisms or their toxins or by parasites that can cause pathological conditions or diseases. Chronic Granulomatous Disease:
      • Leishmaniasis Leishmaniasis Leishmania species are obligate intracellular parasites that are transmitted by an infected sandfly. The mildest form is cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL), characterized by painless skin ulcers. The mucocutaneous type involves more tissue destruction, causing deformities. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), the most severe form, presents with hepatosplenomegaly, anemia, thrombocytopenia, and fever. Leishmania/Leishmaniasis
      • Schistosomiasis Schistosomiasis Infection with flukes (trematodes) of the genus schistosoma. Three species produce the most frequent clinical diseases: Schistosoma haematobium (endemic in Africa and the Middle East), Schistosoma Mansoni (in Egypt, northern and southern Africa, some West Indies islands, northern 2/3 of South america), and Schistosoma japonicum (in Japan, China, the Philippines, Celebes, Thailand, Laos). S. mansoni is often seen in Puerto Ricans living in the United States. Schistosoma/Schistosomiasis
    • Septicemia secondary to encapsulated Encapsulated Klebsiella bacteria Bacteria Bacteria are prokaryotic single-celled microorganisms that are metabolically active and divide by binary fission. Some of these organisms play a significant role in the pathogenesis of diseases. Bacteriology:
      • Streptococcus Streptococcus Streptococcus is one of the two medically important genera of gram-positive cocci, the other being Staphylococcus. Streptococci are identified as different species on blood agar on the basis of their hemolytic pattern and sensitivity to optochin and bacitracin. There are many pathogenic species of streptococci, including S. pyogenes, S. agalactiae, S. pneumoniae, and the viridans streptococci. Streptococcus pneumoniae
      • Neisseria Neisseria Neisseria is a genus of bacteria commonly present on mucosal surfaces. Several species exist, but only 2 are pathogenic to humans: N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis. Neisseria species are non-motile, gram-negative diplococci most commonly isolated on modified Thayer-Martin (MTM) agar. Neisseria meningitidis
      • Haemophilus Haemophilus Haemophilus is a genus of Gram-negative coccobacilli, all of whose strains require at least 1 of 2 factors for growth (factor V [NAD] and factor X [heme]); therefore, it is most often isolated on chocolate agar, which can supply both factors. The pathogenic species are H. influenzae and H. ducreyi. Haemophilus influenzae type B
  • Genetic:
    • Histiocytosis X
    • Amyloidosis Amyloidosis Amyloidosis is a disease caused by abnormal extracellular tissue deposition of fibrils composed of various misfolded low-molecular-weight protein subunits. These proteins are frequently byproducts of other pathological processes (e.g., multiple myeloma). Amyloidosis (may also be acquired)
  • Structural:
    • Cyst(s)
    • Hemangioma Hemangioma A vascular anomaly due to proliferation of blood vessels that forms a tumor-like mass. The common types involve capillaries and veins. It can occur anywhere in the body but is most frequently noticed in the skin and subcutaneous tissue. Imaging of the Liver and Biliary Tract(s)

Related videos

Clinical Presentation

History and physical exam

  • Obtain history.
  • Physical exam:
    • Patient should be examined in the supine position.
    • Abdominal palpation Abdominal Palpation Abdominal Examination:
      • Spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy should not be palpable in healthy individuals.
      • Gentle palpation Palpation Application of fingers with light pressure to the surface of the body to determine consistency of parts beneath in physical diagnosis; includes palpation for determining the outlines of organs. Dermatologic Examination below left costal margin
      • Ask the patient to take a deep breath Deep breath Respiratory Alkalosis. This maneuver causes the spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy to move up and down so that it can be felt when pressing below the left costal margin.
    • Abdominal percussion Abdominal Percussion Abdominal Examination: Dullness to percussion Percussion Act of striking a part with short, sharp blows as an aid in diagnosing the condition beneath the sound obtained. Pulmonary Examination may reveal presence of underlying solid tissue of the spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy.

Hackett’s grading Grading Methods which attempt to express in replicable terms the level of cell differentiation in neoplasms as increasing anaplasia correlates with the aggressiveness of the neoplasm. Grading, Staging, and Metastasis system

The degree of splenomegaly is graded from 0 to 5, according to Hackett’s grading Grading Methods which attempt to express in replicable terms the level of cell differentiation in neoplasms as increasing anaplasia correlates with the aggressiveness of the neoplasm. Grading, Staging, and Metastasis system:

  • Grade 0: normal impalpable spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy
  • Grade 1: spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy palpable only on deep inspiration Inspiration Ventilation: Mechanics of Breathing
  • Grade 2: spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy palpable on midclavicular line, halfway between umbilicus and costal margin
  • Grade 3: Spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy expands toward the umbilicus.
  • Grade 4: Spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy goes past the umbilicus.
  • Grade 5: Spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy expands toward the pubis symphysis.

Causes categorized on the basis of degree of splenic enlargement

The differential diagnosis may be categorized on the basis of the degree of splenic enlargement.

Table: Causes of splenomegaly based on degree of splenic enlargement
Category Spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy size Common causes
Massive > 8 cm below LCM
  • CML CML Chronic myeloid leukemia is a malignant proliferation of the granulocytic cell line characterized by a fairly normal differentiation. The underlying genetic abnormality is the Philadelphia chromosome, an abbreviated chromosome 22, resulting from reciprocal (9;22)(q34;q11) translocation. Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
  • Polycythemia vera Polycythemia vera Polycythemia vera (PV) is a chronic myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by the overproduction of RBCs. In addition, the WBC and platelet counts are also increased, which differentiate PV from erythrocytosis seen with chronic hypoxia and other chronic conditions. Polycythemia Vera
  • Lymphoma Lymphoma A general term for various neoplastic diseases of the lymphoid tissue. Imaging of the Mediastinum
  • Primary myelofibrosis Primary myelofibrosis Primary myelofibrosis (PMF) is a myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by chronic myeloproliferation with nonclonal fibroblastic deposition, resulting in bone marrow fibrosis. The abnormality stems from genetic mutations of the hematopoietic stem cells (typically, JAK2 mutation). Primary symptoms are anemia and extramedullary hematopoiesis,. Primary Myelofibrosis
  • Thalassemia Thalassemia Thalassemia is a hereditary cause of microcytic hypochromic anemia and results from a deficiency in either the α or β globin chains, resulting in hemoglobinopathy. The presentation of thalassemia depends on the number of defective chains present and can range from being asymptomatic to rendering the more severely affected patients to be transfusion dependent. Thalassemia
  • Storage diseases
  • Malaria Malaria Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease affecting humans and other animals. Most commonly transmitted via the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito infected with microorganisms of the Plasmodium genus. Patients present with fever, chills, myalgia, headache, and diaphoresis. Plasmodium/Malaria
  • Infiltration ( malignancy Malignancy Hemothorax)
  • Parasitic infection
Moderate 5–8 cm below LCM
  • Congestive heart failure Congestive heart failure Congestive heart failure refers to the inability of the heart to supply the body with normal cardiac output to meet metabolic needs. Echocardiography can confirm the diagnosis and give information about the ejection fraction. Congestive Heart Failure
  • Hepatic cirrhosis Cirrhosis Cirrhosis is a late stage of hepatic parenchymal necrosis and scarring (fibrosis) most commonly due to hepatitis C infection and alcoholic liver disease. Patients may present with jaundice, ascites, and hepatosplenomegaly. Cirrhosis can also cause complications such as hepatic encephalopathy, portal hypertension, portal vein thrombosis, and hepatorenal syndrome. Cirrhosis
  • Portal hypertension Portal hypertension Portal hypertension is increased pressure in the portal venous system. This increased pressure can lead to splanchnic vasodilation, collateral blood flow through portosystemic anastomoses, and increased hydrostatic pressure. There are a number of etiologies, including cirrhosis, right-sided congestive heart failure, schistosomiasis, portal vein thrombosis, hepatitis, and Budd-Chiari syndrome. Portal Hypertension
  • Acute infection:
    • EBV EBV Epstein-barr virus (EBV) is a linear, double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the herpesviridae family. This highly prevalent virus is mostly transmitted through contact with oropharyngeal secretions from an infected individual. The virus can infect epithelial cells and B lymphocytes, where it can undergo lytic replication or latency. Epstein-Barr Virus
    • Malaria Malaria Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease affecting humans and other animals. Most commonly transmitted via the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito infected with microorganisms of the Plasmodium genus. Patients present with fever, chills, myalgia, headache, and diaphoresis. Plasmodium/Malaria
    • Typhoid Typhoid Typhoid (or enteric) fever is a severe, systemic bacterial infection classically caused by the facultative intracellular and Gram-negative bacilli Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi (S. Typhimurium, formerly S. typhi). S. paratyphi serotypes A, B, or C can cause a similar syndrome. Enteric Fever (Typhoid Fever)
    • Pneumococcus
    • Meningococcus
    • Influenza Influenza Influenza viruses are members of the Orthomyxoviridae family and the causative organisms of influenza, a highly contagious febrile respiratory disease. There are 3 primary influenza viruses (A, B, and C) and various subtypes, which are classified based on their virulent surface antigens, hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA). Influenza typically presents with a fever, myalgia, headache, and symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. Influenza Viruses/Influenza
    • H. influenzae H. influenzae A species of Haemophilus found on the mucous membranes of humans and a variety of animals. The species is further divided into biotypes I through VIII. Haemophilus type b
  • Sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of genetic disorders in which an abnormal Hb molecule (HbS) transforms RBCs into sickle-shaped cells, resulting in chronic anemia, vasoocclusive episodes, pain, and organ damage. Sickle Cell Disease
  • SLE SLE Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune, inflammatory condition that causes immune-complex deposition in organs, resulting in systemic manifestations. Women, particularly those of African American descent, are more commonly affected. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Chronic tuberculosis Tuberculosis Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex bacteria. The bacteria usually attack the lungs but can also damage other parts of the body. Approximately 30% of people around the world are infected with this pathogen, with the majority harboring a latent infection. Tuberculosis spreads through the air when a person with active pulmonary infection coughs or sneezes. Tuberculosis infection
Mild < 5 cm below LCM Same as moderate
LCM: left costal margin

Diagnosis

Splenomegaly is a clinical sign associated with multiple causes rather than a diagnosis. When splenomegaly is present, patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship should be properly evaluated to identify the underlying cause.

Laboratory studies

  • CBC with peripheral blood thick and thin films (for malaria Malaria Malaria is an infectious parasitic disease affecting humans and other animals. Most commonly transmitted via the bite of a female Anopheles mosquito infected with microorganisms of the Plasmodium genus. Patients present with fever, chills, myalgia, headache, and diaphoresis. Plasmodium/Malaria)
  • Liver function tests Liver function tests Liver function tests, also known as hepatic function panels, are one of the most commonly performed screening blood tests. Such tests are also used to detect, evaluate, and monitor acute and chronic liver diseases. Liver Function Tests
  • Viral hepatitis profile
  • Autoimmune screening Screening Preoperative Care
  • Inflammatory markers
  • Cytogenetic tests 
  • Karyotyping Karyotyping Mapping of the karyotype of a cell. Chromosome Testing
  • Tissue biopsy Biopsy Removal and pathologic examination of specimens from the living body. Ewing Sarcoma
  • Bone Bone Bone is a compact type of hardened connective tissue composed of bone cells, membranes, an extracellular mineralized matrix, and central bone marrow. The 2 primary types of bone are compact and spongy. Bones: Structure and Types marrow aspirate

Imaging

  • Ultrasonography
  • CT 
  • MRI

Management

Management is based on the underlying cause and clinical status of the patient.

Conservative (treating underlying disorder)

  • Antibiotics (therapeutic and/or prophylactic)
  • Antimalarials
  • Chemotherapy Chemotherapy Osteosarcoma
  • Blood transfusion or exchange transfer
  • Low-dose radiotherapy for palliative care in patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship with advanced hematologic problems

Splenectomy Splenectomy Surgical procedure involving either partial or entire removal of the spleen. Rupture of the Spleen

  • Indicated when underlying cause results in significant splenomegaly
  • Splenic trauma and rupture
  • Postsplenectomy vaccination Vaccination Vaccination is the administration of a substance to induce the immune system to develop protection against a disease. Unlike passive immunization, which involves the administration of pre-performed antibodies, active immunization constitutes the administration of a vaccine to stimulate the body to produce its own antibodies. Vaccination is important to reduce the risk of overwhelming postsplenectomy infection ( OPSI OPSI Asplenia).

Clinical Relevance

  • Asplenia Asplenia Asplenia is the absence of splenic tissue or function and can stem from several factors ranging from congenital to iatrogenic. There is a distinction between anatomic asplenia, which is due to the surgical removal of the spleen, and functional asplenia, which is due to a condition that leads to splenic atrophy, infarct, congestion, or infiltrative disease. Asplenia: absence of a spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy. The most common anatomical reason for asplenia Asplenia Asplenia is the absence of splenic tissue or function and can stem from several factors ranging from congenital to iatrogenic. There is a distinction between anatomic asplenia, which is due to the surgical removal of the spleen, and functional asplenia, which is due to a condition that leads to splenic atrophy, infarct, congestion, or infiltrative disease. Asplenia is surgical removal; only rarely is asplenia Asplenia Asplenia is the absence of splenic tissue or function and can stem from several factors ranging from congenital to iatrogenic. There is a distinction between anatomic asplenia, which is due to the surgical removal of the spleen, and functional asplenia, which is due to a condition that leads to splenic atrophy, infarct, congestion, or infiltrative disease. Asplenia congenital Congenital Chorioretinitis. If asplenia Asplenia Asplenia is the absence of splenic tissue or function and can stem from several factors ranging from congenital to iatrogenic. There is a distinction between anatomic asplenia, which is due to the surgical removal of the spleen, and functional asplenia, which is due to a condition that leads to splenic atrophy, infarct, congestion, or infiltrative disease. Asplenia is congenital Congenital Chorioretinitis, it is often associated with a malformation of the large thoracic vessels. Asplenic patients Patients Individuals participating in the health care system for the purpose of receiving therapeutic, diagnostic, or preventive procedures. Clinician–Patient Relationship are at high risk for infection with encapsulated Encapsulated Klebsiella organisms and should be vaccinated for these whenever possible.
  • Mononucleosis Mononucleosis Infectious mononucleosis (IM), also known as “the kissing disease,” is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Its common name is derived from its main method of transmission: the spread of infected saliva via kissing. Clinical manifestations of IM include fever, tonsillar pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy. Mononucleosis: Infectious Infectious Febrile Infant mononucleosis Mononucleosis Infectious mononucleosis (IM), also known as “the kissing disease,” is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Its common name is derived from its main method of transmission: the spread of infected saliva via kissing. Clinical manifestations of IM include fever, tonsillar pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy. Mononucleosis, also known as “the kissing disease Kissing disease Infectious mononucleosis (IM), also known as “the kissing disease,” is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Its common name is derived from its main method of transmission: the spread of infected saliva via kissing. Clinical manifestations of im include fever, tonsillar pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy. Mononucleosis,” is a highly contagious disease caused by EBV EBV Epstein-barr virus (EBV) is a linear, double-stranded DNA virus belonging to the herpesviridae family. This highly prevalent virus is mostly transmitted through contact with oropharyngeal secretions from an infected individual. The virus can infect epithelial cells and B lymphocytes, where it can undergo lytic replication or latency. Epstein-Barr Virus. The common name for mononucleosis Mononucleosis Infectious mononucleosis (IM), also known as “the kissing disease,” is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. Its common name is derived from its main method of transmission: the spread of infected saliva via kissing. Clinical manifestations of IM include fever, tonsillar pharyngitis, and lymphadenopathy. Mononucleosis comes from its main method of transmission: spread of infected saliva Saliva The clear, viscous fluid secreted by the salivary glands and mucous glands of the mouth. It contains mucins, water, organic salts, and ptyalin. Salivary Glands: Anatomy via kissing. There is no treatment, but supportive care is usually sufficient.
  • Rupture of the spleen Rupture of the Spleen Splenic rupture is a medical emergency that carries a significant risk of hypovolemic shock and death. Injury to the spleen accounts for nearly half of all injuries to intra-abdominal organs. The most common reason for a rupture of the spleen is blunt abdominal trauma, specifically, motor vehicle accidents. Rupture of the Spleen: most common reason for rupture of spleen Spleen The spleen is the largest lymphoid organ in the body, located in the LUQ of the abdomen, superior to the left kidney and posterior to the stomach at the level of the 9th-11th ribs just below the diaphragm. The spleen is highly vascular and acts as an important blood filter, cleansing the blood of pathogens and damaged erythrocytes. Spleen: Anatomy is blunt abdominal trauma. For individuals with splenomegaly, minimal trauma is already enough to cause a rupture of the capsule Capsule An envelope of loose gel surrounding a bacterial cell which is associated with the virulence of pathogenic bacteria. Some capsules have a well-defined border, whereas others form a slime layer that trails off into the medium. Most capsules consist of relatively simple polysaccharides but there are some bacteria whose capsules are made of polypeptides. Bacteroides. Emergent surgery is usually necessary to prevent massive blood loss and shock Shock Shock is a life-threatening condition associated with impaired circulation that results in tissue hypoxia. The different types of shock are based on the underlying cause: distributive (↑ cardiac output (CO), ↓ systemic vascular resistance (SVR)), cardiogenic (↓ CO, ↑ SVR), hypovolemic (↓ CO, ↑ SVR), obstructive (↓ CO), and mixed. Types of Shock from splenic rupture Splenic rupture Splenic rupture is a medical emergency that carries a significant risk of hypovolemic shock and death. Injury to the spleen accounts for nearly half of all injuries to intra-abdominal organs. The most common reason for a rupture of the spleen is blunt abdominal trauma, specifically, motor vehicle accidents. Rupture of the Spleen.

References

  1. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Splenomegaly. Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/enlarged-spleen/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354331
  2. Jacob, H. (2021). Splenomegaly. Merck Manual Professional Version. Retrieved April 19, 2021, from http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/hematology_and_oncology/spleen_disorders/splenomegaly.html

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