The spleen is part of the immune system, assisting with the filtering of the blood, creating white blood cells and helping the body fight infection. When it becomes enlarged, it is called splenomegaly, a condition which can limit its function and increase the risk of rupture. Danny Shouhed, M.D. is a board certified general surgeon who specializes in spleen disorders. Dr. Shouhed offers splenomegaly treatment at his practice in Los Angeles.
Causes and Symptoms of Enlarged Spleen
The spleen is located on the left side of the abdomen just below the heart and ribcage. It filters out dead blood cells, produces white blood cells and stores red blood cells/platelets. Splenomegaly can occur when the body is fighting off certain infections or diseases like cancer. Bacterial, viral and parasitic infections can all cause splenomegaly, as well as liver and certain blood diseases like spherocytosis. Possible symptoms of an enlarged spleen include:
- Pain or pressure in upper left abdomen that may radiate to the left shoulder
- Reduced appetite – spleen may press against the stomach
- Frequent infections or illness
- Bleeding easily
In some cases, splenomegaly produces no symptoms. It is possible that the spleen will shrink on its own after the underlying infection or cause is treated. However, there is a higher risk of rupture when the spleen is enlarged, which can be life-threatening.
Splenomegaly treatment focuses on treating the infection or disease that is causing the spleen enlargement. When the underlying cause cannot be identified or the spleen stays enlarged, surgery may be recommended. A splenectomy, or removal of the spleen, may be the best option to reduce risk of rupture.
If you have symptoms of an enlarged spleen or you have been diagnosed with chronic splenomegaly, contact the office of Danny Shouhed, M.D. in Los Angeles. Our staff can schedule a consultation with Dr. Shouhed to discuss splenomegaly treatment options.