Enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)

Your spleen is an organ located just below your rib cage on your left side. A number of conditions — from infections to liver disease and some cancers — can cause an enlarged spleen, also known as splenomegaly (spleh-no-MEG-uh-lee).

Most people don't have symptoms with an enlarged spleen. The problem is often discovered during a routine physical exam. Your doctor can't feel a normal-sized spleen in adults — unless you're very slender — but can feel an enlarged spleen. If you have an enlarged spleen, your doctor will likely request imaging and blood tests to help identify the cause.

Treatment for an enlarged spleen focuses on relieving the underlying condition. Surgically removing an enlarged spleen isn't usually the first treatment, but it may be recommended in certain situations.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

An enlarged spleen may cause:

  • No symptoms in some cases
  • Pain or fullness in the left upper abdomen that may spread to the left shoulder
  • Feeling full without eating or after eating only a small amount — this can occur when an enlarged spleen presses on your stomach
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Easy bleeding

When to see a doctor

See your doctor promptly if you have pain in your left upper abdomen, especially if it's severe or the pain gets worse when you take a deep breath.

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