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Ruptured Spleen


Disease: Ruptured Spleen Ruptured Spleen
Category: Other Diseases
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Disease Definition:

When the spleen experiences trauma, a serious condition called "ruptured spleen" may occur. A ruptured spleen can cause life-threatening bleeding if it is left without emergency treatment.

Being just under the rib cage on the left side, the location of the spleen is a prime spot for injury. With enough force, a blow to the abdomen — during a sporting mishap, a fist fight or a car accident, for example — might lead to a ruptured spleen.

Ruptured spleens used to be removed in emergency surgery in the past. However, to help the spleen heal, people with ruptured spleens are now being treated with several days of hospital care.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


The spleen helps the body fight infection and filter unwanted material, such as old or damaged blood cells. Red blood cells and certain types of white blood cells are also produced by the spleen. A large amount of blood may be poured into the abdominal cavity due to a ruptured spleen.

The classic symptoms of a ruptured spleen are abdominal pain and tenderness. A person may become lightheaded or confused if internal bleeding causes the blood pressure to drop. Fainting and blurred vision are also possible.

A person should seek emergency medical care when having pain in the left upper abdomen or signs and symptoms of low blood pressure such as fainting, blurred vision, confusion or lightheadedness, following an injury. So a ruptured spleen is a medical emergency.


A blow to the left upper abdomen or the left lower chest is the usual cause of a ruptured spleen. Common triggers are car accidents, fist fights and sporting mishaps. Soon after the abdominal trauma or, in some cases, days or even weeks after the injury, an injured spleen may rupture.

Sometimes, trauma to the abdomen may cause an enlarged spleen to rupture. The spleen could become enlarged due to various underlying problems such as blood cancers, liver disease, mononucleosis and other infections. As a matter of fact, the most significant complication of mononucleosis is a ruptured spleen.



Life-threatening bleeding into the abdominal cavity may result from a ruptured spleen.


Without surgery, many small and many moderate-sized injuries to the spleen can heal. Blood transfusions, if necessary, and such nonsurgical care may be provided and the condition may be observed while the patient stays in the hospital for up to a week. However, the spleen may need to be surgically repaired or, in some cases, removed, if the injury is severe. Splenectomy is what a surgery to remove the spleen is called.
An open procedure may be required in emergency surgery; however, many splenectomies are done with a small incision and a slender tube equipped with a camera lens and light (laparoscope). The patient may need transfusions to improve the circulation when having lost a large amount of blood.

Without a spleen, a person is more likely to contract serious or even life-threatening infections, despite the fact that he/she can still live an active life. A pneumonia vaccine as well as yearly flu vaccines may be recommended if someone’s spleen is removed. Preventive antibiotics may also be recommended sometimes, especially if the patient has any other conditions that increase the risk of serious infections.
At the first sign of infection after a splenectomy, a person must notify the doctor. Anyone caring for the patient should know that he/she has had the spleen removed.


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