Your spleen is a small, soft, oval-shaped abdominal organ sitting underneath your left rib cage, just behind and above your stomach.
In adults, a normal spleen is about six ounces in weight and about the size of a fist.
As part of your body’s lymphatic system, the spleen plays a vital role in keeping you healthy — from helping you fight off infection to getting rid of cellular waste.
Like with all other organs of the body, problems with the spleen can occur, ranging from splenic cysts to unusual enlargement.
Treatment usually depends on the suspected cause. Diagnosis often involves a series of tests, including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the spleen.
This article reviews everything you need to know about an MRI of the spleen, why you might need one, and how to prepare for it.
You’ll also learn about the average costs and why your routine healthcare tests should include a preventative scan of your spleen.
An MRI of the spleen is a safe and painless procedure that uses strong radio waves and magnetic fields to capture detailed images of your spleen.
A radiology technician performs an MRI of the spleen as a preventative health screening procedure, and a radiologist reviews the results.
An MRI of the spleen may detect possible cysts and tumors and spot other anomalies. The MRI can also help keep track of blood flow through the spleen and potentially discover splenic infarction, which occurs when blood flow to the spleen is compromised.
Before planning for your MRI, whether as part of your annual health screening or a diagnostic procedure recommended by your healthcare provider, it pays to understand the spleen’s role in your overall health.
The spleen, alongside your lymph nodes, makes up the lymphatic network. The lymphatic network is a part of the immune system.
This small but mighty abdominal organ is often hard at work. Its most important functions include
Your spleen has two types of splenic parenchyma, or splenic tissue: red pulp and white pulp.
The red pulp is rich with blood vessels and filters old or damaged red blood cells. The white pulp, which is found inside the red pulp, is made of tiny lumps of lymphoid tissue and is responsible for producing antibodies.
An MRI of the spleen can help spot and identify splenic abnormalities such as
An enlarged spleen can be painful and uncomfortable, especially right after a meal.
Your spleen can swell and become enlarged for a variety of reasons, including
An enlarged spleen can be life-threatening once it ruptures. It can also cause secondary infections, anemia, hemorrhage, or excessive bleeding.
In some cases, other diagnostic modalities, such as a bone marrow biopsy exam, are needed to determine the cause of splenomegaly.
An overactive spleen, also known as hypersplenism, destroys healthy blood cells.
As a result, a person can become anemic, as the body doesn’t have the proper amount of oxygen. This can make it difficult to battle infections, as well.
In cases with severe, overactive spleen, splenectomy or surgical removal of the spleen may be necessary.
Hypersplenism can result from the following conditions:
In some cases, the cause of hypersplenism may be unknown.
A splenic rupture or ruptured spleen can result from an enlarged, swollen spleen or a sudden blow to the left lower chest or left upper abdomen.
It’s worth noting that a spleen can rupture hours or even weeks after trauma or injury.
Computed tomography (CT) and ultrasound imaging are the standard diagnostic procedures for spleen evaluation. An MRI of the spleen may also help validate initial CT findings.
Your doctor may order an MRI if you have the following signs and symptoms:
An MRI of the spleen may help reveal the following anomalies:
Accessory spleen is a condition that is often present from birth. It describes small tissue of the spleen found separately from the main spleen organ.
While patients are usually asymptomatic, accessory spleen is estimated to occur in 10% to 30% of the population.
Splenic hematoma is a condition that may occur as a result of blunt abdominal trauma or systemic diseases.
Splenic hemangiomas are rare splenic lesions but are one of the most common types of benign tumors with splenic involvement. They may be discovered during MR imaging of the spleen.
A spleen MRI may additionally be able to detect other types of benign lesions in the spleen, including
Splenic lymphoma is the most common type of splenic mass or tumor.
Other malignant or cancerous lesions that an MRI of the spleen can reveal include the following:
This condition develops when a clot partially or fully blocks the splenic vein, a blood vessel that drains blood away from the spleen and parts of the pancreas and stomach.
Splenic vein thrombosis occurs in 1 out of 5 patients with chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). It can also develop in patients with pancreatic cancer.
Most patients with this condition do not have symptoms, although portal hypertension can develop.
A CT scan, ultrasound, and MR imaging can help detect splenic vein thrombosis.
Abdominal MRI, which includes the spleen, can range from $1,600 to $7,600 in the United States.
If you’re uninsured or planning to have an elective MRI, you will likely pay out of pocket for your spleen MRI.
The exact steps to take when preparing for an MRI of your spleen will depend on the procedure’s goal. It’s best to ask your doctor for instructions specific to your needs and condition. Generally,
Ezra’s full-body screening is intended for patients looking to take charge of their wellness. The screening examines the spleen and up to 13 other organs in less than one hour.
This procedure is not intended for anyone currently experiencing symptoms or undergoing treatment for an existing condition.
If you feel ready to take charge of your health, you can book a scan today.