Ruptured Spleen – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Surgery and Recovery

Are you suffering from pricking pain in the abdomen after the last sports tournament that you took part in? If yes, make sure that you are not suffering from a ruptured spleen. Know what is a ruptured spleen, what causes it, its diagnosis, symptoms, treatment and more.

Ruptured Spleen Definition

A ruptured spleen is an emergency condition which arises when the spleen suffers a tear releasing blood into the abdomen.

What Causes a Ruptured Spleen?

Any of the following reasons can act as Spleen rupture causes :

Abdominal Injury

A blow to the left side of the upper abdomen or the lower chest can cause Spleen rupture. Such injuries are common during fistfights, car accident or sporting mishaps. An injury to the spleen at first makes the upper left area of the abdomen tender to touch. This may soon lead to abdominal pain and eventually rupture of the organ in many cases. In ruptured spleen abdominal pain is the primary symptom.

Enlarged Spleen

Diseases such as liver ailments, blood cancer, malaria or mononucleosis can lead to spleen enlargement thus making it vulnerable to ruptures.

Ruptured Spleen and Alcohol

In people with ruptured spleen alcohol is often found to be a causative factor. Excessive alcohol consumption may cause a kind of liver disease that can make the Spleen grow to an abnormal size. An enlarged spleen can suffer a tear anytime in future.

Symptoms Of A Ruptured Spleen

Rupture of spleen may give rise to a number of symptoms. Some of the most common Ruptured Spleen symptoms are

Abdominal Pain

Spleen rupture usually gives rise to pain in the left area of the abdomen. The intensity of abdominal pain depends on the extent of damage to the organ. A severely damaged spleen can cause acute pain.

Low blood Pressure

Spleen acts as the storehouse of red blood cells in the human body. A tear in the organ can lead to excessive internal bleeding and cause a drop in blood pressure.

A ruptured spleen may also cause mental confusion, blurred vision and dizziness in sufferers. In extreme cases, patients may faint which indicates internal bleeding. In such cases, sufferers require immediate hospitalization.

Ruptured Spleen Diagnosis

A ruptured spleen assessment can be done by several medical procedures and tests. The diagnostic procedure begins with a physical observation of the patient. A doctor puts pressure on the abdomen of the patient to check the extent of tenderness or pain in the stomach. It also helps determine the size of the spleen.

In some cases, a needle aspiration is carried out to draw out samples of fluid from the abdomen. If fluid sample from abdomen contains blood, emergency treatment may become necessary.

If the diagnosis fails to detect the condition properly, imaging tests may be carried out. In ruptured spleen CT scan and similar imaging tests help to reveal the condition accurately.

Ruptured Spleen Differential Diagnosis

The Differential Diagnosis for Ruptured Spleen involves distinguishing the condition from similar symptom producing diseases like Pancreatitis, Lacerated Liver and Ruptured Left Kidney.

Ruptured Spleen Treatment

Treatment of ruptured spleen generally depends on the nature of the condition. Some emergency conditions involve immediate surgical repair. If that does not help in spleen cure, a complete surgical removal is required. However, many moderate injuries and minor ruptures can be cured without operation. Rest and time can help heal minor tears in spleen. In some cases of non surgical care of ruptured spleen blood transfusions become necessary. CT scans may be performed by doctors afterwards to assess whether the spleen has healed.

Spleen Surgical Repair

The surgical repair of spleen is carried out with sutures. The process does not involve removal of the organ and involves little time.

Spleen Rupture Surgery

A rupture of spleen often involves use of surgical means for its removal. This removal can be partial or total. If a part of the spleen suffers a tear and the surgeon finds it possible to remove only that area, a partial Splenectomy (Spleen Removal Surgery) is performed. The ruptured part of the spleen is removed and the area is closed with sutures.

A complete Splenectomy is performed if partial removal of the Spleen is found to be impossible. However, a total surgery makes the body vulnerable to bacterial and other types of microbial infection. The spleen is an important part of the immune system and removes harmful microbes and foreign elements from the bloodstream. Absence of spleen thus increases the risk of contracting infections. It is necessary that doctors administer vaccines before and after surgery to eliminate risk of infection.

Spleen removal surgery is of two types – Open Spleen Surgery and Laparoscopic Spleen Surgery. In Open Surgery, a large incision is made in the centre or left side of the abdomen and the spleen is carefully removed. Laparoscopic surgery involves inserting a Laparoscope and special surgical tools into the abdomen. The Laparoscope is a special tubular instrument fitted with a small camera and a light on one of its ends. The camera feeds images to a monitor and the light helps surgeons view the interiors clearly. Inserting this instrument into the body makes surgery more accurate.

Ruptured Spleen Vaccinations

A patient needs to be administered vaccines before and after surgery that aims at complete removal of a ruptured spleen. It is essential for such individuals to get vaccinations against Meningococcal, Pneumococcal, Haemophilus influenza, E. coli and Streptococcal bacteria. Absence of spleen makes people vulnerable to infection by these types of bacteria.

Ruptured Spleen Complications

Ruptured spleen can give rise to a number of complications. Non-surgical management of a Splenic injury may give rise to tears in spleen in future. Complete Splenectomy or total removal of spleen makes the body prone to infections and increases the risk of Sepsis or the formation of pus-manufacturing bacteria in the bloodstream. A rupture may also release excess blood cells outside the body and give rise to life-threatening consequences. Total removal of spleen may also cause chest infection, pneumonia and accumulation of fluids in the lungs. These problems can be treated with effective medications such as physical therapy, respiratory therapy, antibiotic medications and vaccines.

Is Ruptured Spleen Fatal?

Excessive blood loss due to a ruptured spleen may be fatal. Rapid loss of blood can lead to sudden collapse of the sufferer. The supply of oxygen to the brain and heart may get affected. In acute cases of ruptured spleen death of patients may also occur. Mortality rate related with Splenic trauma varies from 10 to 25%.

Ruptured Spleen Prognosis

The outcomes for both operative and non-operative treatment of Splenic rupture are good. Non-operative management has more than 90 percent success rate for suffering individuals. Patients undergoing surgery may return to work after sometime. Light sedentary work may be required until the operated area heals completely.

Most patients undergoing a Laparoscopic Splenectomy return to usual daily activities within a week. If under medical observance, they should perform light sedentary activities for 2 – 4 weeks after returning to work. The nature of work actually depends on the extent of the Splenic rupture.

Ruptured Spleen Recovery

Ruptured spleen recovery time differs from person to person. A patient who has opted for non-surgical cure may recover in a few weeks while recuperation may take a few months in case of patients who have been operated upon.

Ruptured Spleen in Pregnancy

Ruptured spleen during pregnancy is a very rare condition. It is frequently misdiagnosed and mistaken for other diseases. If doctors fail to detect the disorder in time, the condition may be fatal for both mother and infant.

Ruptured Spleen during Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is a process that involves visual examination of the colon with an instrument known as the Colonoscope. Colonoscope is an extended fiber-optic endoscope that helps doctors examine the entire length of the colon from cecum to rectum. This is often seen to lead to a Splenic rupture. The cause of Splenic rupture due to Colonoscopy are supposed to be the result of direct damage to the spleen, reduction in the relative movement between spleen and colon and excessive traction of Splenocolic ligament.

Ruptured Spleen Internal Bleeding

An injured or ruptured spleen can cause heavy internal bleeding. It is the Spleen that holds red blood cells and a tear on its surface can release these cells outside into the abdomen thus leading to excessive internal blood loss. The typical ruptured spleen bleeding symptoms of internal blood loss are dizziness, disorientation and drop in blood pressure. Acute cases of blood loss can result in loss of consciousness and even death.

Ruptured Spleen Prevention

Patients diagnosed with an enlarged spleen should avoid sports and other strenuous physical activities that may put stress on the Spleen and result in its rupture. Mononucleosis is a viral infection that may lead to an enlarged spleen. Individuals affected with this disorder may also suffer from a ruptured spleen on performing stressful activities.

If you have been diagnosed with a ruptured spleen, do not delay treatment. Consult your doctor and seek medical attention immediately. Timely treatment will help you keep all possible complications at bay and get back to health in no time.

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/ruptured-spleen/DS00872/DSECTION=causes

http://www.livestrong.com/article/163948-what-are-the-causes-of-a-ruptured-spleen/

http://wacky5.com/rupture-of-spleen-and-its-complete-treatment.html

http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/picture-of-the-spleen

http://www.nethealthbook.com/articles/rupturedspleen.php

http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/ruptured-spleen/DS00872.html

Published on May 24th 2011 by  under Heart, Blood and Circulation.
Article was last reviewed on 30th August 2011.

2 Responses to “Ruptured Spleen – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Surgery and Recovery”

  1. [...] some cases, there can be a ruptured spleen filled with excess red blood cells. If the rupture occurs before surgical removal, there may be [...]

  2. william says:

    I have survived non Hodgkin’s for 12 years now. 52yrs of age, extremely fit and no symptoms of cancer. All test such as CT, Gallian, and blood work are perfect.

    My spleen over the last 3yrs has gone from 13cm to 20cm with no pain except feeling of fullness. The only thing I can contribute this to is stress but that is now under control.

    Any suggestions on getting it reduced or the cause.

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