A break in the surface of your spleen, usually from a forceful blow to your abdomen, can cause life-threatening internal bleeding.
A ruptured spleen is a medical emergency that occurs as a result of a break in your spleen's surface. 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 accident, a fistfight or a car crash, for example — is the usual cause of a ruptured spleen. If you have an enlarged spleen, a less forceful trauma might cause rupture. Without emergency treatment, the internal bleeding caused by a ruptured spleen can be life-threatening.
Some people with ruptured spleens need emergency surgery. Others can be treated with several days of hospital care.
Signs and symptoms of a ruptured spleen include:
A ruptured spleen is a medical emergency. Seek emergency care after an injury if your signs and symptoms indicate that you may have a ruptured spleen.
A spleen can rupture due to:
A ruptured spleen can cause life-threatening bleeding into your abdominal cavity.
If you've been diagnosed with an enlarged spleen, ask your doctor whether you need to avoid activities for several weeks that could cause it to rupture. These might include contact sports, heavy lifting and other activities that increase the risk of abdominal trauma.
Tests and procedures used to diagnose a ruptured spleen include:
Treatment for a ruptured spleen will depend on the severity of your condition. Some people require immediate surgery. Others heal with rest and time.
Many small or moderate-sized injuries to the spleen can heal without surgery. You're likely to stay in the hospital while doctors observe your condition and provide nonsurgical care, such as blood transfusions, if necessary.
You might have periodic follow-up CT scans to check whether your spleen has healed or to determine whether you need surgery.
Surgery for a ruptured spleen can include:
Removing the spleen (splenectomy). If it's necessary to remove your spleen, you'll be at increased risk of serious infections, such as sepsis. The risk of sepsis is highest in young children, especially the first two years after the spleen has been removed.
Your doctor might recommend ways to reduce the risk of infection, such as vaccinations against bacteria, including meningococcus, pneumonia and Haemophilus influenzae b. You may also be prescribed an oral antibiotic to prevent infections.
Spleen surgery is generally safe, but any surgery has risks, such as bleeding, blood clots, infection and pneumonia.
May 4th, 2021