- Why the spleen is needed
- Splenomegaly – enlargement of the spleen
- Why the spleen increases in size
- Common causes of enlarged spleen
- Treatment of the spleen
The spleen is located in the left upper part of the abdominal cavity. This lymphoid organ is an oval, flattened form. The spleen is in contact with the diaphragm, pancreas, large intestine and left kidney.
Why the spleen is needed
The main function of the spleen is to regulate the functions of the hematopoiesis. In addition, the spleen filters the blood, clearing it of bacteria, regulates blood coagulability. She is one of the main participants in the exchange processes. The reasons for the increase in the spleen may be related to its ability to rebuild depending on the presence of diseases of other organs. For example, with liver disease, the outflow of blood from other organs decreases. As a result, the spleen increases in size.
The spleen is capable of purifying the blood, performing the role of a fine filter. This is the largest lymph node in the body. With the help of the spleen, the blood is released from microorganisms, antigenic particles (the body considers them to be foreign or dangerous), dead red blood cells. The spleen allows you to react quickly to attempts to penetrate the body’s immune defense.
Enlarged spleen can be soft and dense, painful and not painful. Regardless of the cause of the enlargement of the spleen, in some cases the organ becomes so large that it begins to squeeze other internal organs. In this case, painful symptoms also appear.
Splenomegaly – enlarged spleen
As a rule, splenomegaly – enlarged spleen – it is possible to palpate. As is known, if the spleen is functioning correctly, it is not palpable. At the same time, a perfectly healthy body can increase its mass in certain situations by half. Therefore, the definition of the boundary, from which the enlargement of the spleen should be considered splenomegaly, is rather arbitrary.
The weight of a healthy organ is 150 g. The size of the spleen is 10-11 cm, width 3-4 cm. As a rule, splenomegaly is diagnosed with an increase in the mass of the spleen of over 200 g. Other cases are diagnosed by echography, tomography or “quiet percussion” (tapping) and pathology are not considered.
Why the spleen increases the size of
When the size of the spleen increases, its ability to capture blood cells increases. But this process has the opposite side: when a lot of pathological blood cells are extracted from the blood, they degrade the filtering capacity of the spleen. This causes an even larger increase in the spleen.
As a result, the process can go so far that too many cells will be extracted from the blood. In this case, they speak of hypersplenism – excessively active destruction of the blood cells by the spleen, which reduces the number of erythrocytes, white blood cells or platelets. Blood becomes poor red blood cells, which causes anemia. Frequent infectious diseases begin because of a decrease in the number of leukocytes in the blood. Haemostatic functions also become low: the number of platelets will also decrease.
If you do not find out the exact reasons for the increase in the spleen and do not begin the appropriate treatment, the spleen will begin to destroy not only the pathological cells, but also quite healthy ones.
The spleen can increase in size due to various diseases of the most diverse nature, from infection to oncology.
Common causes of enlarged spleen
- cirrhosis and liver tumors, cysts;
- chronic and acute infections, the result of parasites activity (malaria, tuberculosis, brucellosis, syphilis);
- circulatory failure;
- leukemia, anemia, immunoleukemia and other hematologic diseases;
- granulomatous and leukemic diseases.
Diagnostic degree of enlargement of the spleen:
- 1 degree: the spleen on one finger protrudes from beneath the costal arch, while its lower pole is palpated;
- 2 degree: the spleen protrudes to the middle of the distance between the umbilicus and the hypochondrium;
- 3 degree: the size of the spleen reaches the middle line;
- 4 degree: the sizes are such that the spleen comes into the pelvis or right half of the abdomen.
Symptoms of enlarged spleen
Because of the close location of the spleen from the stomach, the enlarged spleen is often the cause of complaints of overcrowding even after a modest meal. Sometimes the stomach hurts or the left behind, gives in the left shoulder. As a rule, this happens when separate parts of the spleen receive little blood and therefore begins their destruction.
Diagnosis of enlarged spleen
As a rule, before starting treatment, it is necessary to determine the causes of enlargement of the spleen. In addition to palpation, radiographic examination of the abdominal cavity is used, computed tomography. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) helps determine the degree of blood supply to the spleen. When scanning with the help of weakly radioactive elements, it is revealed whether the blood cells in the spleen are being destroyed in large quantities.
The blood test allows you to determine the decrease in the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. In some cases, the shape and size of the blood cells can determine the cause of the increase in the spleen.
The treatment of the spleen
is directed, first of all, to the elimination of the disease that caused the enlargement of the spleen. The operation to remove the spleen is performed in rare cases, because after the operation the body becomes too susceptible to infections. The operation is performed if the spleen excessively intensively destroys the red blood cells, causing anemia. Or when as a result of the work of an enlarged spleen, the number of leukocytes and platelets decreases. Too large size of this organ, interfering with the normal operation of other internal organs, is also an indication for the operation. Operation is recommended in case of bleeding or partial destruction of the organ.
Sometimes, radiation therapy is used to treat an enlarged spleen.