Symptoms and Signs of Enlarged Spleen (Splenomegaly)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 10/18/2022

Doctor's Notes on Enlarged Spleen (Splenomegaly)

The spleen is an organ in the upper left portion of the abdomen that serves as a filter for the bloodstream, stores red blood cells and platelets, and produces lymphocytes, part of the immune system. Enlargement of the spleen is medically known as splenomegaly and occurs because of an underlying illness. Diseases and conditions that can cause an enlarged spleen are varied. Possible causes of splenomegaly include liver disease, certain cancers, infections, inflammatory conditions, and trauma.

An enlarged spleen itself typically does not cause signs or symptoms, but often, the presence of an enlarged spleen is associated with symptoms of the underlying disease that caused the enlargement. Some of the symptoms associated with the diseases that cause enlarged spleen may include:

What Is the Treatment for an Enlarged Spleen (Splenomegaly)?

Treatment for splenomegaly may involve observation if no cause for the condition can be found. Splenomegaly caused by bacterial infections is treated with antibiotics.

Surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy) may be recommended if:

  • the cause cannot be identified,
  • there are serious symptoms, or
  • if there is a risk of complications.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.