AskDefine | Define splenomegaly

Dictionary Definition

splenomegaly n : an abnormal enlargement of the spleen

Extensive Definition

Splenomegaly is an enlargement of the spleen, which usually lies in the left upper quadrant (LUQ) of the human abdomen. It is one of the four cardinal signs of hypersplenism, the other three being cytopenia(s), normal or hyperplastic bone marrow, and a response to splenectomy. Splenomegaly is usually associated with increased workload (such as in hemolytic anemias), which suggests that it is a response to hyperfunction. It is therefore not surprising that splenomegaly is associated with any disease process that involves abnormal red blood cells being destroyed in the spleen. Other common causes include congestion due to portal hypertension and infiltration by leukemias and lymphomas.

Symptoms and signs

Symptoms may include abdominal pain, early satiety due to splenic encroachment, or the symptoms of anemia due to accompanying cytopenia.
Signs of splenomegaly may include a palpable left upper quadrant abdominal mass or splenic rub. It can be detected on physical examination by using Castell's sign or Traube's space, but an ultrasound can be used to confirm diagnosis.


Splenomegaly grouped on the basis of the pathogenic mechanism The causes of massive splenomegaly (>1000 g) are much fewer and include:


If the splenomegaly underlies hypersplenism, a splenectomy is indicated and will correct the problem. After splenectomy, however, patients have an increased risk for infectious diseases.
After splenectomy, patients should be vaccinated against Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae. They should receive annual influenza vaccinations. Long-term prophylactic antibiotics should be given.


External links

splenomegaly in German: Splenomegalie
splenomegaly in French: Splénomégalie
splenomegaly in Italian: Splenomegalia
splenomegaly in Japanese: 脾腫
splenomegaly in Polish: Splenomegalia
splenomegaly in Portuguese: Esplenomegália
splenomegaly in Russian: Спленомегалия
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