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Thursday, February 7, 2008

Splenomegaly (Enlarged spleen)

What is splenomegaly?

Splenomegaly is an enlargement of the spleen beyond its normal size. The spleen is an organ involved in the production and maintenance of red blood cells, the production of certain circulating white blood cells, and is a part of the lymph system and the immune system. Because of its wide variety of functions, the spleen may be affected by many conditions involving the blood or lymph system, and by infection, cancers, liver disease, and parasites.

What are the causes?

  1. Infections

    • Viral infections
    • Parasitic infections
    • Bacterial infections

  2. Diseases involving the liver

    • Cirrhosis (portal vein obstruction, portal hypertension)
    • Sclerosing cholangitis
    • Wilson’s disease
    • Biliary atresia
    • Cystic fibrosis

  3. Haemolytic anaemias

    • Thalassaemia
    • Haemoglobinopathies
    • Haemolytic anaemia due to G6PD deficiency
    • Immune haemolytic anaemia

  4. Cancer

    • Leukaemia
    • Lymphoma
    • Hodgkin’s disease

  5. Other causes

    • Sarcoidosis
What is the diagnosis?

Splenomegaly is usually detected during a physical examination by a health care provider. A detailed examination of the abdomen will probably be performed. Diagnostic tests may be required, including:
  1. Blood tests such as a CBC
  2. Tests for suspected causes
  3. Abdominal film or CT scan
How to take care at home?

Rupture of the enlarged spleen is particularly possible in infectious mononucleosis and several other causes of splenomegaly. Appropriate limitation of activity, including avoiding contact sports, will help prevent trauma that might cause the spleen to rupture. Care will be required for the specific condition causing the splenomegaly. Follow the instructions given by the doctor regarding appropriate care

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