The spleen’s primary function is to filter the blood; it identifies and gets rid of old, misformed, or flawed red blood cells. A number of conditions, such as liver disease, some cancers, and infections, can cause splenomegaly, or an enlarged spleen.
It’s typically asymptomatic, making it difficult to diagnose on its own.
Should you present with symptoms, however, they could include:
- Frequent infections
- Bleeding easily
- Feeling full after eating only a little bit, or without eating at all
- Pain or the sensation of fullness in the upper left part of your abdomen that could spread to your left shoulder
According to the Mayo Clinic, in adults, splenomegaly is often found in the midst of a routine physical exam, as doctors can usually feel an enlarged spleen.
Your physician may, however, choose from a few methods to confirm a splenomegaly diagnosis:
- MRIs: MRIs can trace the flow of blood through the spleen.
- Blood tests: blood tests as simple as complete blood counts can assess the number of red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells in your system to assess your spleen’s functionality.
- Ultrasounds or CT scans: these tests can aid in determining your spleen’s size, and whether or not it’s crowded your other organs.
If you are diagnosed with an enlarged spleen, your treatment plan will not only depend but also focus on what the underlying issue causing it is. This is because an enlarged spleen may be caused by various other conditions, including cancer, infections, and liver disease. Your doctor may perhaps suggest a surgery to remove your spleen (called a splenectomy); this may happen especially if your case of splenomegaly is causing severe issues, or its underlying cause is untraceable or untreatable.
Some of the Ezra MRIs could catch splenomegaly; you can learn more about our screening plans here.