Desmond Kaplan MD FAPA

Child, Adolescent & Adult Psychiatry

1777 Reisterstown Road, Suite 50
 Baltimore, MD 21208

Splenic Injury

Splenic injury may occur as a result of an accident, most commonly a car or bicycle accident, a contact sports injury, or an inflicted stab wound or gunshot. The Epstein-Barr virus, and some other diseases which frequently cause the spleen to enlarge, may make splenic injury more likely. Symptoms of a splenic injury may include inexplicable abdominal pain, especially in the left upper quadrant, hemorrhagic shock, blurred vision, confusion or distention of the abdomen.

Since the spleen is part of the body's immune system, responsible for producing infection-resistant antibodies and removing old blood cells from the bloodstream, splenic injury requires prompt treatment. This is necessary to prevent rupture of the spleen, internal bleeding and other potentially serious complications.

A splenic injury is usually diagnosed through a physical examination and diagnostic imaging tests such as an MRI or ultrasound scan. Treatment for this condition varies depending on its severity. Mild to moderate splenic injuries can be treated with blood transfusions and careful monitoring at the hospital, while severe splenic injuries may require a splenectomy.

A splenectomy is, however, avoided whenever possible because removing the spleen places the patient at increased risk of developing infections. Embolization, in which the hemorrhaging vessels are blocked off, is a new and less invasive treatment. Occasionally when surgery is needed, the spleen can be surgically repaired instead of removed. When a splenectomy is deemed unavoidable, the patient can be protected from future infections, at least to some degree, by the administration of vaccinations, immunizations and antibiotics.

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