Spleen is an organ located just below your rib cage on your left side. Splenomegaly is an enlargement of the spleen. The spleen usually lies in the left upper quadrant (LUQ) of the human abdomen. Splenomegaly is usually associated with increased workload, which suggests that it is a response to hyper-function. It is therefore not surprising that splenomegaly is associated with any disease process that involves abnormal red blood cells being destroyed in the spleen. Other common causes include congestion due to portal hypertension and infiltration by leukemia and lymphomas. Thus, the finding of an enlarged spleen, along with caput medusa, is an important sign of portal hypertension.
Splenomegaly does not have any specific symptoms. Vague abdominal pain and bloating are the most common, but still nonspecific, symptoms of an enlarged spleen. Some individuals with a much enlarged spleen may complain of early satiety (anorexia) and gastric reflux symptoms because of the stomach displacement and pressure on the stomach as a result of the enlarged spleen. Otherwise, many symptoms associated with enlarged spleen are related to the underlying cause of the enlargement. These may include fever, night sweats, paleness (pallor), generalized weakness, fatigue, easy bruising, and weight loss.
A number of infections and diseases can contribute to an enlarged spleen. The effects on your spleen may be only temporary, depending on how well your treatment works. Contributing factors include Viral infections, such as mononucleosis, Bacterial infections, such as syphilis, Parasitic infections, such as malaria, Cirrhosis and other diseases affecting the liver, Various types of hemolytic anemia — a condition characterized by premature destruction of red blood cells, Blood cancers, such as leukemia, and lymphomas, such as Hodgkin's disease, Metabolic disorders, such as Gaucher's disease and Niemann-Pick disease, Pressure on the veins in the spleen or liver or a blood clot in these veins.
If the splenomegaly underlies hypersplenism, a splenectomy is indicated and will correct the hypersplenism. However, the underlying cause of the hypersplenism will most likely remain; consequently, a thorough diagnostic workup is still indicated, as, leukemia, lymphoma and other serious disorders can cause hypersplenism and splenomegaly. After splenectomy, however, patients have an increased risk for infectious diseases.