| Risk Factors
The spleen is an organ that helps filter the blood and produces white blood cells that make proteins that fight infection. A splenic rupture is a tear or split in the spleen and can lead to dangerous internal bleeding.
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Trauma to the area is a common cause of a splenic rupture. The spleen tissue may also be damaged if there is abnormal tissue growth or infection.
Factors that may increase your risk of splenic rupture include:
- Being in a motor vehicle accident
- Playing contact sports
- Inflammatory conditions, such as pancreatitis
- Certain therapies and medications, such as blood thinning medications
Symptoms of splenic rupture may include:
- Left shoulder pain
- Abdominal pain
- Abdominal swelling
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Images may need to be taken of your spleen. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. This will be based on the size, extent, and severity of the laceration and the presence of other injuries. The goal when possible is to maintain all or part of the spleen. Options include:
Some spleen injuries may heal on their own with rest. Close monitoring in the hospital will most likely be needed. Blood transfusions may also be needed to replace lost blood and provide support during recovery.
Surgery may be needed if the spleen is severely damaged. When possible the spleen will be repaired. Otherwise, a part or all of the spleen may need to be removed (splenectomy). As much of the tissue will be spared as possible because the spleen helps protect the body against bacterial infections. If possible, splenectomy should be avoided in children and the elderly, since they have weaker immune systems.
Prevention will depend on the cause, but may include:
- Wearing appropriate safety equipment when playing contact sports
- Wearing a seatbelt when in a motor vehicle to help prevent accident-related chest or abdominal trauma
Splenic injury. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/abdominal-trauma/splenic-injury. Updated December 2013. Accessed June 13, 2016.
Splenic injury. University of Connecticut website. Available at: http://ksi.uconn.edu/emergency-conditions/internal-trauma/splenic-injury. Accessed June 13, 2016.
Splenic injury and rupture. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116823/Splenic-injury-and-rupture. Updated December 21, 2015. Accessed June 13, 2016.
Splenic trauma. Radiopaedia.org website. Available at: http://radiopaedia.org/articles/splenic-trauma. Accessed June 13, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2016 by James Cornell, MD
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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