Several organs in your body can help better performance. But, even without the organs like spleen, you can function normally. The spleen is considered as one of the largest organs in your lymphatic system. It helps keep the fluids balanced in your body. Under certain circumstances, the organ may need removal. Events like accidents can lead to disrupted spleen that causes more harm. So, the doctor may opt to remove it. But, do not worry, you can still lead a healthy life. Want to know about the interesting organ? Scroll ahead to get the comprehensive information about the organ.
What Is Spleen?
The spleen is the organ that you can find just under the ribcage. It is situated on the upper left quadrant of your abdomen. So, it is located just above your stomach region. The organ looks purple in color. It is made of two different tissues. So, it looks very soft. The tissues that make up the organ are:
White Pulp Tissue
It has the immune cells in it. So, the B cells and T cells present in it helps with immunity. Your immune system can fight any infections with the cells.
Red Pulp Tissue
The tissues help with blood filtering. So, it gets rid of the damaged or old red blood cells. Then, it replaces with the new red blood cells.
Spleen Size And Location
The spleen has a bean-like structure. It is protected by your ninth and eleventh ribs. The organ located under the diaphragm weighs roughly 150 grams. In a fully developed adult, the spleen has the vertical dimension of 11 cm (maximum). It is secured by your abdominal cavity from any injury. The size of the spleen may vary with the person.
The spleen varies in size and shape. It is just like each person is unique, the organs also have different shapes and sizes. But, the location is almost the same for everyone. Therefore, you can find the spleen on your upper part of the abdomen. The fist-shaped organ has a purple color. The delicate and soft structure of the organ makes it vulnerable to injuries. So, your body protects it with the ribcage. It is not easy to feel the organ. Only when the organ becomes larger in size, you can feel it. So, why is the spleen important for the body? It has multiple roles in your body. Therefore, the common functions of the organ are:
Removal Of Abnormal Blood Cells
The blood in your body flows through all the organs including the spleen. The blood needs to pass through the narrow passages of the organ. The healthy and new blood cells can pass easily through the narrow passages. But, the damaged or old blood cells get blocked. It gets broken down by the organ’s white blood cells. So, it retains the important component from the old blood cells. The components like iron get reused in the new cells. So, ultimately, the organ helps in removing the abnormal blood cells. The organ has the capability to change its shape (widen or narrow) according to your body’s needs.
Clearing Invading Organisms
Apart from acting as a filter, it strengthens the immune system. The spleen stores the white blood cells and platelets from the old blood. So, it can fight several kinds of bacteria. The invading organisms are tackled by the white blood cells. Hence, the organ can overcome the threat caused by bacteria. It successfully prevents diseases like meningitis and pneumonia.
The lymphocytes are helpful for the body. Wondering how? It aids in the production of antibodies. The antibodies have the power and capability to kill any microorganisms affecting your health. Therefore, it can successfully combat any infection from spreading to other parts of the body.
Several issues affecting the organ can result in pain. If you experience agony or discomfort, then it means you have some health issue. The most common problem associated with the organ is:
Ruptured (Lacerated) Spleen
Trauma like accident or injury during the contact sports can result in the ruptures or lacerations to the spleen. The injury ca break the organ’s surface. So, it can result in internal bleeding. People experiencing the condition can go into shock. Therefore, you need immediate medical help with the following signs or symptoms:
- Pale Skin
- Fast Heart Rate
In such cases, emergency care is required to avoid the condition from becoming life-threatening. But, the lacerations can also come under low-grade. It means the reduced extent of the injury. So, you can just heal with constant doctor monitoring.
Symptoms Of Lacerated Spleen
The splenic laceration is among the most common problem associated with the organ. Therefore, you need to become aware of the signs that point towards the issue. The signs include:
- Tenderness or pain to touch the upper left area of the abdomen
- Pain in the left chest wall
- Discomfort in the left shoulder
- Feeling confused
If you experience the symptoms after an injury, then contact your doctor immediately. Or you can visit the emergency area in the hospital to get adequate treatment.
Splenomegaly is another major cause resulting in splenic pain. The condition can result in an enlarged organ. So, it increases the risk of getting ruptured and lead to internal bleeding. But, don’t worry, you can treat the condition on time. People irrespective of their age have increased the risk of getting affected by the condition. Hence, if you have the following factors, you have more chances of experiencing the issue:
- Kids suffering from the condition known as mononucleosis
- Individuals with genetic metabolic disorders like Gaucher’s and Niemann-Pick disease
- People traveling to or living in countries affected by Malaria endemic
Symptoms OF Splenomegaly
In most cases, the patients never detect the splenomegaly. The condition gets detected by the doctors during the routine physical checkup. It has no particular symptoms. The doctor can feel your enlarged organ by just pressing the upper part of the abdomen. But, if you experience the following symptoms, it points towards splenomegaly:
- Anemia (Low Red Blood Cells)
- Pain in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen
- Experiencing pain in the shoulders
Getting medical help at the right time can prevent the organ from rupturing. The laceration can lead to other fatal complication due to internal bleeding. Therefore, you need to take the right steps to avoid complications.
Infections Causing Splenic Pain
The infections can lead to splenic pain causing immense discomfort. The possible infections that can affect your spleen health are:
Viral infections can cause splenic pain. The viral infections like mononucleosis can affect the organ adversely.
Different types of bacteria can invade your body. It can affect your immune system and cause adverse effects on the spleen.
The parasite invasion in the body can affect your health adversely. Malaria is one of the common parasitic problems. So, it can lead to splenic complications.
Other Diseases And Causes Of Spleen Pain
Several other underlying diseases or issues can lead to splenic pain. The list of problems resulting in the pain are:
- Metabolic Disorders
- Liver Diseases (Cirrhosis)
- Excess pressure on spleen
- Blood Clots (Lungs or Spleen)
- Inflammatory Diseases (Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sarcoidosis)
- Traumatic Injury
- Non-cancerous Cysts (a sac filled with fluid)
- Infiltrative Diseases (Amyloidosis. Gaucher’s disease)
- Glycogen storage diseases
Another cause of spleen pain is cancer. You need to understand that rarely the cancers originate in the organ. In most cases, cancer originates somewhere else and spreads to the organ. So, the types of cancers causing pain are:
When cancer occurs in the organ, it is mostly lymphomas. It is the blood cancer that originates in your lymphatic system. The lymphomas can start in other areas of the body and invade the spleen. Even the non-Hodgkin (adult) lymphoma can affect the organ adversely.
In the majority of cases, cancer can occur elsewhere and spread to the spleen region. Therefore, the common types of cancers invading the organ are:
- Blood Cancer (originating in the bone marrow)
- Lung Cancer
- Stomach/Bowel Cancer
- Cancer can spread to other regions in your body including the spleen.
Symptoms Of Spleen Cancer
The common symptoms of cancer in the organ that people experience are:
- The feeling of fullness in the stomach (upper abdomen)
- Experiencing pain in the upper side of the abdomen
- Easy to bleed
- Anemia (low red blood cells in the blood)
- Develop infections frequently
- Experience exhaustion or fatigue
- Chest pain
- Sudden weight loss
- Large lymph nodes
- Chills or Sweating
- Shortness of breath
If you experience the above symptoms, then contact the doctor immediately. With medical help, you can determine the actual issue. So, you can get the apt treatment based on the type of cancer.
Spleen Diagnostic Test
When you experience spleen pain, it is important to consult a doctor. The doctor can use several diagnostic techniques to detect the actual problem. Understanding the root problem behind the pain is important to develop a treatment plan. The following methods opted by your doctor can help understand the problem with precision.
When you seek a doctor’s appointment, your doctor examines you thoroughly. The physical examination is the first step to detect the issue. The doctor can press the region under the ribcage, on your belly. It helps to detect the spleen issues. An enlarged spleen can cause physical changes around the abdomen that your doctor can detect. If the doctor suspects splenomegaly, further tests can establish the issue. Other signs are also checked to confirm the diagnosis.
The computed tomography scan offers a clearer picture of the internal organs. It takes multiple x-rays of the organ to give detailed images. So, the test can offer a comprehensive view of the spleen and its abnormalities precisely. The contrast dye is injected into your veins to provide clear images.
It is a harmless test. Sound waves can create images of your internal organs when it gets reflected. The painless diagnostic test uses a probe. It is placed on the belly to detect the issues with the organ. The enlarged or abnormal spleen is easily detected with the ultrasound.
Sophisticated tests like MRI uses magnetic waves to generate detailed images of your abdomen and the internal organs. It also uses the contrast dye. So, MRI can even help measure the blood flow to the spleen.
Bone Marrow Biopsy
For pancreas issues like cancer, your doctor suggests for the bone marrow biopsy. Cancer is a dangerous and life-threatening condition. So, it requires immediate detection and treatment. Your doctor may suspect cancer as the root cause of splenomegaly. Some cancers like lymphoma and leukemia can lead to splenomegaly. Therefore, the bone marrow biopsy can detect the issue. For the biopsy, the medical professional inserts a needle into the pelvic area (or a large bone). From the bone, your doctor collects the bone marrow sample. It is sent to the lab for testing.
Liver And Spleen Scan
The nuclear medicine study can provide your doctor with the valuable internal images of your liver and spleen. It can detect all the health problems associated with the two organs. It comes under the radiology. You need to take a small dose of radioactive tracer element. It moves throughout your body and finally gets deposited in the two organs. The radiation (gamma rays) from the tracer gets detected by a gamma camera. So, it can create the complete picture of the liver as well as spleen.
Spleen pain can occur due to the underlying health condition. Therefore, the treatment to overcome the distress focuses on clearing the root problem. So, the treatment plan can provide relief to the main health issue. As soon the complication clears, the spleen problem also alleviates. Therefore, the treatment plan includes the following:
Ruptured Spleen Treatment
The spleen rupture is treated according to the severity of the injury. Your doctor categorizes the injury into two types:
The laceration requiring no surgery to heal comes under the category. It means that the injury is not severe. The doctor may advise hospital stay to overcome the problem without any complication. With proper medical care and rest, you can get back to your normal life. So, you need to seek medical attention. With constant monitoring, the low-grade spleen lacerations can heal quickly.
The high-grade laceration can result in severe internal bleeding. It can result in fatal complications. Therefore, your doctor may opt for the surgery to repair the spleen. In some cases, the doctors may remove a part of the organ to help regain your health. Severe cases with no chances of saving the organ results in complete spleen removal. You can read below to know more about the complete removal of the organ.
Humans can live without some organs in their body. One among them is the spleen. In some cases, when the organ suffers severe damage, the doctor can recommend splenectomy. Removing the organ can avoid severe complications. So, it is adopted for issues like cancers and injuries due to accidents. Laparoscopy surgery can remove the spleen without complications. It uses several small incisions to remove the organ. So, you can heal quickly. But, in some cases, your doctor opts laparotomy. It has one large incision to remove the organ.
Removing the spleen from your body can make you vulnerable to infections. Therefore, it is necessary to get the vaccination. Else, your immune system can get affected by bacteria and virus. An absent spleen can make you more prone to risks due to bacteria like:
- Haemophilus Influenza Type B (Hib)
- Meningitis C
Unfortunately, you need to take antibiotics for the rest of your life. You can get affected by bacterial infection due to the absence of the organ. Therefore, your doctor may recommend antibiotics for people coming under the following categories:
- Children coming under the age of sixteen
- For two years consequently for people who have undergone splenectomy
- Your immune system does not function properly
Splenic pain can indicate some underlying health condition. Therefore, you need to see your doctor immediately. The doctor can assess the size of the organ and other medical condition to pinpoint the actual problem. Based on the results from the diagnostic test, you can start an ideal treatment plan. It will help alleviate the underlying condition. So, once the root cause gets treated, you can get relief from the pain. Minor issues need good rest and no contact with the organ. In some cases, the spleen gets surgically removed. But, it will not affect your life adversely. Therefore, with proper medical assistance, you can overcome the pain effectively.View Article Sources