Chrome 2001
.
Aetna Intelihealth InteliHealth Aetna Intelihealth Aetna Intelihealth
 
.
. .

   Advertisement
Carepass Ad Carepass Ad .
Chrome 2001
Chrome 2001
InteliHealth
Ask the Doc
4464
Ask the Doc
Ask The Expert
Harvard Medical School
Image of a cadeusus
. .
General Medical Questions
.
Question : I recently had an abdominal ultrasound exam to see if I had gallstones. No gallstones, but my spleen was enlarged. What might cause this?
.
.
.
The Trusted Source
.
.
Howard LeWine, M.D.

Howard LeWine, M.D., is chief editor of Internet Publishing, Harvard Health Publications. He is a clinical instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. Dr. LeWine has been a primary care internist and teacher of internal medicine since 1978.

.
.
July 27, 2012
.

A:

The spleen sits underneath the rib cage in the left upper part of the abdominal cavity. Normally it is slightly less than 5 inches long and 3 inches wide.

The spleen is a curious organ. It filters our blood by removing older or misshapen cells. Also it’s part of our immune system and helps fight certain infections.

Even though it performs some important functions, the spleen is not an essential organ. It can be surgically removed without affecting other vital body functions.

There are many possible reasons for an enlarged spleen. Your situation is quite common. A person has a CAT scan or ultrasound of the abdomen and the spleen is noted to be larger than normal. This finding may be unrelated to why the imaging procedure was ordered. If no cause is found, it is called "idiopathic splenomegaly" and has no special significance.

The broad categories of conditions that enlarge the spleen include:

  • Infection, such as mononucleosis.
  • Immune disorders, such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Hemolytic anemia. A low red blood cell count caused by rapid breakdown of red blood cells in the circulation.
  • Cirrhosis of the liver. Scarring of the liver impairs blood flow through the portal veins (the veins going into the liver). The blood backs up into the spleen and enlarges it.
  • Lymphoma. But rarely is just the spleen enlarged. Usually the lymph nodes swell, and there are other signs.

.

 

 

4581, 8438, 8465, 8474,
spleen,liver,immune
8438

.
.
InteliHealth
.
Ask A Question
.
.
InteliHealth
Do You Have A Question?
.
. . .
.
Ask The Expert Archives
Topics
.
InteliHealth
.
InteliHealth

    Print Printer-friendly format    
   
dmtatd
dmtATD
dmtatd
126747
InteliHealth
1998-05-15
f
InteliHealth
NULL
411, 4464, 4581, 4582, 7991, 7992, 7995, 7996, 7997, 8122, 8438, 8463, 8464, 8465, 8466, 8467, 8468, 8469, 8470, 8471, 8472, 8473, 8474, 8475, 8476, 8477, 8479, 8480, 8481, 8482, 8483, 8484, 8486, 8487, 8488, 8489, 8490, 8760, 14219, 20807, 21346, 21349, 21351, 23926, 23938, 24017, 24025, 24075, 24151, 24510, 24519, 24549, 24869, 24878, 25107, 25518, 25646, 25968, 29367, 29516, 29595, 48666, 48812, 59367,
4581
.
.  
This website is certified by Health On the Net Foundation. Click to verify.
.