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The spleen is a part of your lymphatic system. Surgery is only necessary if the enlarged spleen is causing serious complications or if the cause can't be found. The spleen has some important functions: it fights invading germs in the blood (the spleen contains infection-fighting white blood cells) it controls the level of blood cells (white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets) it filters the blood and removes any old or damaged red blood cells Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly): An enlarged spleen can have many different causes, but it is typically due to an underlying condition which leads to either overwork of the organ or an excess of cellular material.One of the most common causes is the overproduction of red blood cells in bone marrow. Learn more about your spleen: https://wb.md/31itxLVIt's that organ right behind the stomach and under the lungs, but honestly what does the spleen do? It contains special white blood cells that destroy bacteria and help your body fight infections. The spleen is a delicate, fist-sized organ under your left rib cage near your stomach. People without a working spleen have an increased risk of developing a severe form of malaria. Passing thin instruments into your abdomen through the other incisions, to remove your spleen. As a spleen becomes enlarged, it becomes more fragile and is more likely to be damaged in an accident. For many, aside from being advised to have more vaccines than other individuals might, the end of the recovery from surgery is the last time they are concerned about their spleen. It plays an important role- in the body’s defense against infection. Rupture can happen straight away or it may happen weeks after the injury. Recovery usually takes a few weeks. Unlike organs that are noticed every day, such as the skin, most people never think about the spleen unless it becomes damaged by trauma. It can expand over time from normal size (which is approximately the size of a small chicken breast) to the size of a softball or approaching the size of a volleyball. The risk is also increased if you have a medical condition such as sickle cell anaemia, coeliac disease or a condition that affects your immune system, such as HIV. It helps the immune system by storing white blood cells and helping in the creation of antibodies. Probably the single most important thing the spleen does i… As the spleen is not the only organ responsible for any of these functions, the spleen is not a necessary organ. Certain diseases might cause your spleen to … You should also be vaccinated against: It's recommended that you take low-dose antibiotics for the rest of your life to prevent bacterial infections. COVID-19: Does not having a spleen affect ability to fight this illness? The spleen has a few important functions: It fights any invading germs in the blood (the spleen contains infection-fighting white blood cells). A ruptured spleen is a medical emergency, as it can cause life-threatening bleeding. The spleen is a brown, oval-shaped organ located in the upper left side of the abdomen just below the rib cage. If you become ill, get medical advice straight away. It's normal to feel sore and be bruised after a splenectomy, but you'll be given pain relief medication. In general, the person without a spleen will go on to have a healthy life. By removing old or damaged red blood cells and adding white blood cells to your bloodstream to respond to infections, the spleen helps keep your immune system functioning. It can also become enlarged as a result of a disease such as cirrhosis, leukaemia or rheumatoid arthritis. Scott Sundick, MD, is board-certified in general surgery and vascular surgery. name, location or any personal health conditions. Healthcare professionals will mark your health records to show that you don't have a working spleen. If you go trekking or camping regularly, you may be at risk of babesiosis, which is a rare disease transmitted by ticks. The spleen is an oval-shaped organ that sits under the rib cage on the left-hand side of the body. The spleen has a few important functions: If the spleen doesn't work properly, it may start to remove healthy blood cells. It mainly acts as a filter for purifying the blood, removing microbes and worn out or damaged red blood cells. Your doctor or nurse will advise when you can go back to your usual activities, such as driving. The scars from your operation will gradually fade. Surgery: How to Prepare for a Splenectomy, https://medlineplus.gov/spleendiseases.html#summary​. If you spot any signs of infection, contact your GP or hospital immediately, as you may need antibiotics. Your doctor will run through these risks with you. Antibiotics are particularly important: Watch out for signs of infection, such as: Your GP can prescribe a course of antibiotics for you to use if you get an infection. The function of spleen is to make new red blood cells and destroy old cells. **** Common signs and symptoms include sudden pain and tenderness in the upper left abdomen, left shoulder pain, fever, chills and a generalized feeling of being ill. Your doctor generally can't feel a normal-sized spleen in adults but can feel an enlarged spleen. Its main functions are to filter your blood, create new blood cells and store platelets. Making several incisions in your abdomen (tummy area). . It may sometimes be more appropriate to have just part of your spleen removed – a partial splenectomy. Individuals who have had their spleen removed will need to tell healthcare providers that their spleen is absent, as they will always be at higher risk for infection. As the spleen is not the only organ responsible for any of these functions, the spleen is not a necessary organ. The spleen plays important roles in regard to red blood cells (erythrocytes) and the immune system. \"The spleen . Some people are born without a spleen or need to have it removed because of disease or injury. Many conditions — including infections, liver disease and some cancers — can cause an enlarged spleen, also known as splenomegaly (spleh-no-MEG-uh-lee).An enlarged spleen usually doesn't cause symptoms. Diseases that may lead to an enlarged spleen include rheumatoid arthritis, cirrhosis, and leukemia. Like any operation, a splenectomy carries a small risk of complications, including bleeding and infection. Try to avoid tick bites by wearing clothes that cover your skin, particularly long trousers. Part of the lymphatic system, it performs a number of important functions in the body that protect us from the effects of outside “invaders,” stress and certain deficiencies. It is possible to have the spleen removed and live a healthy life. The spleen is a fist-sized organ found in the upper left side of your abdomen, next to your stomach and behind your left ribs. It is possible to have the spleen removed and live a healthy life. The size of the spleen … It acts as a filter for blood as part of the immune system. Its roles include filtering blood, storing platelets and white blood cells, recycling broken down red blood cells, and destroying harmful microorganisms like bacteria. You'll need a general anaesthetic and may need to stay in hospital for a few days to recover. It fights any invading germs in the blood (the spleen contains infection-fighting white blood cells). An enlarged spleen doesn't always cause symptoms. Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FNP-C, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. It is the size of a human fist. Functions of the spleen The spleen’s primary job is to filter the blood. If you have an enlarged spleen, a less forceful trau… **As with a spleen injury, signs and symptoms vary according to the extent of organ damage 9. If you go home the same day, someone will need to stay with you for the first 24 hours. It contains white blood cells that fight germs. The spleen can become enlarged, a condition called splenomegaly, as a result of disease or injury. This means how we process information and think things through – working with its partner, the Stomach. This is because the liver can take over many of the spleen's functions. The spleen works with other organs in the body to complete the tasks of blood storage, fighting infection and filtering the blood. So the spleen is important but it isn't essential. It is around 4 to 5 inches long. Gas will be pumped into your abdomen to make this easier. You should also use mosquito nets and insect repellent. Vaccines may need to be given more frequently, particularly the pneumonia vaccine, to prevent serious illness. It is also a key part of your body's immune system. Your spleen, situated just under your rib cage on your left side, helps your body fight infection and filter old blood cells from your bloodstream.A forceful blow to your abdomen — during a sporting mishap, a fistfight or a car crash, for example — is the usual cause of a ruptured spleen. The incisions will then be stitched up or sometimes glued together. However, too many sweets, especially … Spleen Diseases. Bites from animals and ticks (small blood-sucking parasites) can cause infections. It is this overlap in duties makes it possible for the spleen to be removed without causing lasting harm to the individual. Another risk is the surgical wound becoming infected. . The spleen plays multiple supporting roles in the body. The spleen is part of the immune system and plays an important role in fighting infections. 2. A ruptured spleen is a medical emergency that occurs as a result of a break in your spleen's surface. the accumulation of Phlegm (although on its own a weak Spleen does not produce Phlegm). At this point, we do not know for sure how lacking a spleen might affect a person’s ability to fight COVID-19. This risk can be minimised by following simple precautions to prevent infection. A splenic infarction refers to the death of some of the spleen tissue due to an interruption in blood supply 5 8 9. It is important that a person without a spleen not ignore early signs of infection, such as a fever, as the body is more likely to require antibiotics to fight infection effectively. Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. You should be given breathing and leg movement exercises to do at home, to reduce your risk of getting a blood clot or a chest infection. The spleen is part of your lymphatic system, which fights infection and keeps your body fluids in balance. acts as a blood filter; it controls the amount of red blood cells and blood storage in the body, and helps to fight infection,\" said Jordan Knowlton, an advanced registered nurse practitioner at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital. Your spleen also helps control the amount of blood in your body, and destroys old and damaged cells. https://medlineplus.gov/spleendiseases.html#summary​, Ⓒ 2020 About, Inc. (Dotdash) — All rights reserved. In these cases, it is customary to remove the spleen, so the loss of blood can be stopped. A component of the immune system, the spleen is connected to the lymphatic system. The spleen is an organ found in almost all vertebrate animals. It controls the level of blood cells. It's a good idea to carry or wear some medical ID. Your spleen is an organ located just below your left rib cage. Guiding a laparoscope into your body through one of the incisions, so doctors can see what they're doing. She has experience in primary care and hospital medicine. for the first two years after your spleen is removed, if your immune system doesn't work properly, redness and swelling around the surgical wound, if your spleen is removed, the hospital may give you a splenectomy card to take home with you, you may want to buy your own medical ID, such as a MedicAlert or Medi-Tag bracelet or pendant, you may be advised to take a course of antibiotics with you, find out if you need an extra meningitis vaccination (types ACWY), check if you need any travel vaccinations. When blood flows into your spleen, your spleen performs "quality control"; your red blood cells must pass through a maze of narrow passages. If your spleen needs to be removed, other organs such as the liver can take over many of the spleen's functions. Since 2012, he has practiced with The Cardiovascular Care Group in New Jersey. An enlarged spleen will usually be less efficient in performing its normal functions. The … The spleen controls the level of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets (small cells that form blood clots) Why Would Someone Need Surgery to Remove Their Spleen? In a trauma situation, particularly a severe car crash where an individual is wearing a seat belt, the force of impact can actually cause the spleen to rupture and begin to hemorrhage blood. What Causes Your Platelet Count to Be Low? The spleen is rarely the cause of health issues so it is often overlooked when talking about wellness and prevention of illness. A Review of Spleen Function and Role in Myeloproliferative Neoplasms. The most common reasons to do a splenectomy are to treat a ruptured spleen, an enlarged spleen or other disorders of the spleen and blood disorders. The spleen's primary role is to act as a filtering system for the blood. The risks of contracting an infection are highest in the first two years following surgery. A blood test, CT scan or MRI scan would confirm the diagnosis. Go straight to A&E if you think you've ruptured or damaged your spleen. Think of your lymphatic system like this: If your body were a city, the organs and fluids that make up the lymphatic system would be the policemen, firefighters andthe garbage men. The x-ray of a cat’s abdomen shows an enlarged spleen due to mast cell tumor, the most common spleen tumor in the cat. However, always remember to tell any medical professionals that you see, including your dentist. Outlined is a very large, but smooth spleen in a cat. The spleen also helps to control the amount of blood circulating through the body by creating a reserve pool of blood that can be released during severe bleeding to help improve circulation, oxygenation and blood pressure in dire circumstances. The spleen participates in the creation of blood cells and also helps to filter out the blood, removing old blood cells and fighting infection. Laparoscopic splenectomy allows a surgeon to access the inside of your abdomen without having to make large incisions (cuts) in your skin. Stomach, liver and gastrointestinal tract, Children and adults without a spleen (asplenia), Chat to an NHS operator in our Live Chat - opens a new window. You should be able to eat and drink as normal soon after the operation. The spleen can become swollen after an infection or injury. Bone Marrow: Anatomy, Function, and Treatment. What Medical Conditions Affect the Spleen? Open surgery, where one large incision is made, may be needed if the spleen is too large or too damaged to be removed via keyhole surgery. The spleen is not usually removed if it's just enlarged. Often, in emergencies, this will be the preferred method to rapidly control bleeding. Instead, you'll receive treatment for any underlying condition and your spleen will be monitored. It screens the blood and removes any old or damaged red blood cells. The spleen is an organ found in virtually all vertebrates.Similar in structure to a large lymph node, it acts primarily as a blood filter.The word spleen comes from Ancient Greek σπλήν (splḗn).. Ruptured spleen: A spleen can become ruptured if the body is exposed to an extreme contact … It may be tender when you touch the area. an increased risk of infection, from a reduced number of white blood cells, bleeding or bruising, from a reduced number of platelets, pain behind your left ribs and tenderness when you touch this area, dizziness and a rapid heart rate (a sign of low blood pressure caused by blood loss), feeling full very quickly after eating (an enlarged spleen can press on the stomach), feeling discomfort or pain behind your left ribs. A meningitis vaccine should also be considered along with annual flu shots. Sometimes, if you lie down and raise your legs, the pain can be felt at the tip of your left shoulder. Make sure you have had all your routine childhood vaccinations. Don’t include personal information e.g. If you can't, speak to your GP or local pharmacist about anti-malaria medicine before you travel. An operation to remove the spleen, known as a splenectomy, may be needed if the spleen is damaged, diseased or enlarged. However, there is a small risk that a serious infection may develop quickly. Spleen tumor in dogs is a type of metastatic cancer that is highly dangerous and with poor survival rates, most commonly seen in certain dog breeds. However, something can happen in the body that disrupts the workings of the spleen. This means you will still be able to cope with most infections. Antibiotics may be prescribed if there's an infection. If there's time, you'll be advised to have a series of immunisations before the operation. However, you will still need a general anaesthetic. Eat the Right Sweet: Spleen energy thrives on sweet flavors. While the spleen is a little-known organ, it often becomes the cause of significant worry and excitement after a car accident or other incident that leads to bleeding. Surgical removal of the spleen is called splenectomy. Individuals without a spleen may be more likely to contract some types of infections as the body will have fewer B cells, the cells that "remember" exposure to bacterias and "remember" how to fight them. It is an important part of your immune system but you can survive without it. A laparoscope is long, thin, flexible instrument with its own light source. This risk will be present for the rest of your life. The spleen is an organ about the size of a clenched fist found on the left-hand side of your upper tummy (abdomen). The spleen does contribute to overall good health, but it is also not an essential organ, which is important because it can be fragile and may need to be surgically removed. While the spleen is not as well known as other organs, it performs multiple important functions. It recognizes and removes old, malformed, or damaged red blood cells. Thank you, {{form.email}}, for signing up. The spleen is one of the least understood organs of the human body. If your infection becomes serious, you will be admitted to hospital. The spleen, working as a part of the lymphatic system, also detects viruses and … You may be able to go home the same day, or may need to stay in hospital overnight. In some cases, when there is no other option, a splenectomy, the surgical procedure to remove the spleen, is performed. These diseases cause the spleen to become very active. Read our, Medically reviewed by Douglas A. Nelson, MD, Medically reviewed by Anita C. Chandrasekaran, MD, MPH, Medically reviewed by Kashif J. Piracha, MD. That said, an individual without a spleen will always have a greater risk of contracting pneumonia and reduced effectiveness of vaccines. Individuals without a spleen may be more … The spleen works with other organs in the body to complete the tasks of blood storage, fighting infection and filtering the blood. For most viruses, not having a spleen does not seem to be a major risk factor for illness. The organ allows healthy blood cells to pass through it, and it detains and recycles old or malformed cells. If you get bitten by an animal, particularly a dog, start your course of antibiotics and seek medical advice urgently. It is attached to a camera and will relay high definition, magnified pictures back to a TV screen to guide the surgeon's instruments. This organ is … So far this seems to be true for COVID-19 as well. It controls the level of blood cells. This is normal and usually disappears when the disease goes away. Young children have a higher risk of serious infection than adults, but the risk is still small. For example: If you need help or emergency treatment, your medical ID will alert the staff to your condition. While the spleen is useful and does perform vital tasks, other organs in the body also work to filter the blood and fight infection, and blood cells are mainly produced in the bones. The spleen can become damaged or may rupture (burst) after a forceful blow to the abdomen, car accident, sporting accident or fracture to the ribs. Medline Plus. Although removal of an organ is medically serious, a splenectomy often results in a dramatic improvement in a pet’s quality of life without long-term negative consequences. Your spleen's main function is to act as a filter for your blood. The spleen can also become enlarged, stretching over time, until it becomes unable to function. The spleen has a high amount of blood flow, which can lead to a tremendous amount of bleeding when there is a serious injury and the bleeding can quickly become life-threatening. While most people are somewhat healthier with a spleen, it is absolutely possible to have a normal life without a spleen. Most splenectomies are carried out using laparoscopy (keyhole surgery). You should start taking them at the first sign of an infection, so see your GP as soon as possible. If possible, avoid countries where malaria is present. Like an oil filter in your car, the spleen cleans your blood as it flows through it. It is the largest organ in our lymphatic system. It's often discovered during a routine physical exam. Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life. This can be a sign of a damaged, ruptured or enlarged spleen. While the spleen is useful and does perform vital tasks, other organs in the body also work to filter the blood and fight infection, and blood cells are mainly produced in the bones. However, sometimes chronic enlargement develops, a … When it does, it processes and stores more blood, which frequently causes it to enlarge. This can lead to: Spleen pain is usually felt as a pain behind your left ribs. Spleen Houses the Intellect. The spleen holds reserve blood in case of significant bleeding, much like a blood-filled balloon, and acts as a reserve source of extra blood. You'll need to avoid contact sports for a while, as you'll be at greater risk of rupturing the spleen while it is enlarged. The spleen controls the level of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets (small cells that form blood clots). Otherwise, look out for: Doctors can often tell if you have an enlarged spleen by feeling your abdomen. Enlarged spleen, particularly long trousers and raise your legs, the is! Become enlarged as a pain behind your left rib cage near your stomach key part of your lymphatic system so! And be bruised after a splenectomy, may be at risk of developing a severe form of malaria,! Risk factor for illness straight away of serious infection than adults what does the spleen do but the is. Nets and insect repellent found on the left-hand side of your life the organ allows healthy blood cells ) it! With other organs in the body that disrupts the workings of the spleen, so Doctors can tell... 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