The Spleen is an organ in our body located right under the left rib cage and at the upper left part of the abdomen. This organ is responsible for recycling the blood cells and fighting certain bacteria that can cause serious health problems such are meningitis and pneumonia. It also acts as a storehouse for white blood cells and platelets.
The Spleen is about 4 inches long and is purple in color. The rib cage completely protects this fist-shaped organ; therefore, you cannot easily feel it unless there is swelling or enlargement.
A ruptured or damaged spleen is often a result of impact caused by a fistfight, sporting accident, or a car crash. It is a medical emergency caused by a break in the surface of the organ. According to medical professionals, if you have an enlarged spleen, it can rupture even with lesser degree of trauma. A spleen rupture causes internal bleeding and can be life-threatening. It can be treated with several days of hospital care, but in serious cases, surgery may be imperative.
What are the Symptoms of a Ruptured Spleen?
A ruptured spleen causes pain in the area along with symptoms of blood loss. The main symptoms are:
• Anxiety and restlessness
• Pain in the left shoulder
• Pain and tenderness at the upper left abdomen or below the left rib cage
When to See a Doctor?
As already mentioned, a ruptured spleen is a medical emergency. Therefore, if you suspect a ruptured or injured spleen, you should seek emergency care. Head to the nearest emergency room or dial 1066 for an ambulance .
Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment
What are the Causes of a Ruptured Spleen?
Several reasons can lead to a ruptured spleen. They are:
Injury to the Spleen
Injury is one of the most common causes behind a ruptured spleen. It is typically caused by an impact on the left side body, especially on the upper abdomen or lower chest on the left side. Injury to the spleen may be caused by a sporting mishap like a strong football impact in the abdomen region. A vehicle crash or a fistfight can also cause it.
Often, the spleen rupture happens immediately after the trauma. But in some cases, it may occur after a few days or weeks of the trauma or injury.
An Enlarged Spleen
The spleen gets enlarged with the accumulation of blood cells. It may be caused by various underlying conditions such as liver disease, mononucleosis, blood cancer, and other infections. An enlarged spleen can get ruptured even with the slightest trauma and can cause heavy bleeding in the abdominal cavity. As already mentioned, this is a serious situation and calls for immediate medical attention.
How is a Ruptured Spleen Detected/Diagnosed?
A ruptured spleen is detected with the help of some tests and procedures. They are:
Your doctor will examine the area under your left rib cage for tenderness and also assess the size of the spleen.
A blood test may be performed to check the platelet count. This test may also be used to test body blood clotting capabilities.
Testing for Blood in the Abdominal Cavity
A ruptured spleen causes excessive blood loss in the abdominal cavity; therefore, a doctor may check for blood/fluids in the abdomen. This test may be performed either with the help of an ultrasound, or your doctor may use a needle and syringe to draw fluid from the abdominal cavity. If the tests show blood in the abdomen, the diagnosis of spleen rupture is confirmed.
Imaging tests are often performed to confirm the diagnosis of spleen rupture. In this procedure, your doctor may perform a CT scan with a contrast dye to look into the abdominal cavity. A CT scan can also help the doctor assess the amount of damage caused to the spleen.
What is the Treatment of a Ruptured Spleen?
The treatment of a ruptured spleen depends on the severity of the case. While some cases get better with medical care in the hospital, some may need immediate surgery.
Hospitalization and round the clock care are often enough to treat small or moderate-sized injuries caused to the spleen. Your doctor may admit you to the hospital for a few days and keep you under observation while providing non-surgical care. In some cases, blood transfusions may be needed to aid healing.
Your medical team will perform follow-up CT scans at frequent intervals to assess the healing. If the healing process does not go as per the doctor’s expectation, the case is reanalyzed for a change of treatment plan and referred to surgery (if needed).
Surgery is the only way to fix a severely damaged spleen. Spleen surgery can be performed with different goals:
Repairing the Spleen
A damaged spleen can be repaired . This method is used where the trauma is limited to the surface of the spleen.
Removing the Spleen
The process of removing the spleen is known as splenectomy. It is performed when the damage to the spleen is extensive, and it is necessary to remove it for your well-being. A splenectomy increases the risk of serious infections, such as sepsis and pneumonia.
Removing Part of the Spleen
In some cases, it might be possible to remove only a part of the spleen and save the rest. This process is known as partial splenectomy and depends on the damage/rupture. Partial splenectomy involves removing the damaged part of the spleen and saving the healthy part.
A ruptured spleen is not a common occurrence, but if you suspect you may have ruptured it during a game of football or a fistfight, you should get immediate medical attention. If you have an enlarged spleen because of an underlying condition, you should let your doctor know about it. You may be asked to avoid certain activities such as contact sports and heavy lifting. Remember that a spleen rupture is a serious, life-threatening condition. Do not wait for its symptoms to subside. Call your doctor/emergency facility immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can a Spleen Rupture on its Own?
Spontaneous splenic rupture is rare but it is possible.
How Long Does it Take to Recover from a Ruptured Spleen?
The recovery time of a spleen rupture depends on the damage and the procedure performed on the spleen. The common time frame is 3 to 12 weeks.
Can you Have a Ruptured Spleen and Not Know it?
No, it is unlikely for a ruptured spleen to go unnoticed. It causes severe pain and tenderness in the left upper abdomen. The blood loss also causes noticeable symptoms like lightheadedness, dizziness, and confusion.
Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment