Where Is Your Spleen Located On Your Body – The spleen is an organ located under the rib cage in the upper left side of the abdomen. It helps fight infections and filters unwanted materials, such as old or damaged blood cells, from your blood.
Figure 1. Image of the splenic artery (red) and splenic vein (blue) along with the blood vessels of the spleen.
- 1 Where Is Your Spleen Located On Your Body
- 2 The Spleen: What Does It Do, Location, Pain, And More
Where Is Your Spleen Located On Your Body
A splenectomy is a surgical procedure to remove the spleen. The most common reason for a splenectomy is to treat a ruptured spleen, often caused by abdominal trauma. A splenectomy may be used to treat other conditions, including an enlarged spleen that causes discomfort (splenomegaly), certain blood disorders, certain tumors, infection, and noncancerous cysts or tumors.
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A splenectomy is usually performed laparoscopically through 3 small incisions. With this type of surgery, you can leave the hospital the day after the operation and fully recover after two weeks.
After a splenectomy, other parts of your body take over most of the functions that your spleen used to perform. You can be active without a spleen, but you are at greater risk of getting sick or getting serious infections. This risk is highest shortly after surgery.
To reduce the risk of infection, you should receive certain vaccines to prevent certain infections. These include Haemophilus influenzae type B, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis vaccines. Ideally, these vaccinations should be given at least 2 weeks before surgery. You can go your whole life and never think about your spleen. If it is not damaged, your spleen filters your blood and makes white blood cells. The spleen, hidden under the wall, is well protected. However, that doesn’t mean your spleen can’t be damaged and become a bigger problem.
An enlarged spleen is the result of damage or injury to the spleen from any of several different medical conditions, diseases, or types of physical trauma. Infections, liver problems, blood tumors, and metabolic disorders can cause the spleen to become enlarged, a condition known as splenomegaly.
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As your spleen enlarges, the risk of it rupturing increases. A splenic rupture or even a severe splenic tear can cause massive internal bleeding that requires immediate medical attention.
Your spleen is a small, yellowish organ located in the upper left side of your abdomen. Located just below your left lung behind the ninth, tenth, and eleventh ribs, the spleen is an organ that plays a role in not just one, but two major body systems.
The spleen consists of two types of tissue, each of which has its own function. The primary role of the spleen is to filter your blood. A type of tissue in the spleen called red pulp helps remove damaged blood cells and other cellular debris from the blood supply. Your spleen is responsible for keeping platelets in reserve to help with blood clotting when you are injured. The spleen also helps maintain a healthy number of red blood cells in your blood to allow it to carry oxygen in your blood more efficiently.
As part of the lymphatic system, the spleen’s second major function is to help your immune system function properly. A second type of tissue in the spleen, white pulp, helps store lymphocytes. Also known as white blood cells, these cells are your body’s main defense against infections. When you are sick, the spleen releases these white blood cells into the bloodstream to attack any invaders such as bacteria or viruses to destroy them and keep you healthy.
The Spleen: What Does It Do, Location, Pain, And More
You might think that any enlarged organ would cause pain, but surprisingly, an enlarged spleen may not give you many signals that something is wrong.
Unlike many other diseases, problems with the spleen do not cause many symptoms on their own. It takes a severe case of splenomegaly to trigger pain from the spleen. If the spleen is significantly enlarged, you may feel pain in the upper abdomen and even in the left shoulder.
An enlarged spleen can put pressure on the surrounding organs, which can sometimes be felt if the swelling is severe enough. If you experience severe pain in the upper left side of your abdomen when you take a deep breath, it may be time to talk to your doctor to see if you have splenomegaly.
Because of its role in cleaning and maintaining your blood supply, the spleen can be sensitive to many different conditions that affect your blood. This can include hereditary diseases and blood cancers such as Hodgkin’s disease (a type of lymphoma) and leukemia. Your dietary habits and lifestyle can lead to an enlarged spleen. Liver diseases such as cirrhosis caused by chronic alcoholism can affect the spleen. Certain types of heart disease, which can be affected by diet and exercise, can disrupt blood supply to the spleen.
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Blood diseases are an important source of spleen problems. Because your spleen spends its day filtering and purifying your blood supply, things that go wrong in your blood, especially when they affect your red blood cells, can cause problems for your spleen. Several blood disorders that are common causes of splenomegaly involve the spleen working too hard to remove damaged blood cells. These conditions include hemolytic anemia, sickle cell disease, thalassemia, and spherocytosis.
The aforementioned blood disorders aren’t the only reason your spleen is working overtime to target and filter out damaged cells from your blood. Cancers such as leukemia and Hodgkin’s disease can damage blood cells and cause the spleen to filter abnormally. Other types of cancer can also metastasize to the spleen tissue.
There are a number of metabolic and genetic disorders that affect the spleen. These conditions are less likely to damage the blood itself, but damage to other tissues in the body can still cause the spleen to overwork. Common causes of this type of spleen injury include:
Various types of infections are also possible causes of splenomegaly. This can include viral, bacterial and even parasitic infections. These infections span the spectrum of serious life-threatening infections from HIV/AIDS and malaria to tuberculosis and viral hepatitis. Other, lesser-known infections, such as anaplasmosis and cytomegalovirus, can also damage the immune system, including the spleen.
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Many organs in the body have a way of telling you that something is wrong. A chronic cough and runny nose may indicate that something is wrong with your respiratory system. Blood in the stool is a clear sign that you need to talk to your doctor, because something may be wrong with your digestive tract. On the other hand, there are few such symptoms in spleen related problems.
If you find yourself pushing yourself off the table before you’ve had a full meal, a problem with your spleen may not be the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, an unexplained feeling of fullness sometimes indicates that your spleen is enlarged and pressing on your stomach.
Other symptoms of splenomegaly are closely related to the underlying disease affecting your spleen. These can range from symptoms of infections such as HIV/AIDS to liver disease and malaria. A few common symptoms closely associated with spleen problems are listed below:
It is unlikely that you will visit the doctor just to investigate an enlarged spleen. Usually, symptoms of the underlying cause of your splenomegaly will prompt you to see your doctor.
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Diagnosing your condition may start with a physical exam and blood tests to see what’s going on. If your doctor thinks your spleen may be enlarged, he or she may recommend additional imaging, such as X-rays or a CT scan, to get a better look at your spleen.
From here, your course of treatment will depend on what causes the splenomegaly is identified. For some common causes, treatment with medication or lifestyle and diet changes can lead to relief. Certain other genetic conditions, cancer, or if your spleen is too damaged, your entire spleen may need to be removed.
The good news is that there is no need to worry about having your spleen removed. There are many organs that cannot live without it, but the spleen is different. You can live a very full, normal life without a spleen, but there will be some negative effects. Because the spleen plays an important role in maintaining your body’s supply of white blood cells, having your spleen removed makes you more susceptible to infection throughout your life.
Regardless of the cause of splenomegaly, you should be careful if you have an enlarged spleen. Risk of rupture of the spleen or
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