People far from medicine know very little about the spleen. Well, located somewhere in the left side. And why it is needed, what functions in the body it performs, what diseases are associated with this organ – as a rule, very few of the nonmedics know about it. But I must say that the spleen is still a mystery for doctors – it is clearly not enough studied.
What is the spleen and what is it for?
It is the largest organ of the immune system, located on the left side of the abdominal cavity behind the stomach. The spleen weighs about 200 g, and with age its weight decreases. It has a bean-shaped shape, red-brown color and a soft texture. In normal condition, the spleen is not palpable.
The spleen is considered an organ of the immune system, as it is involved in the formation of immunity. In it are formed cells that destroy pathogens, and the spleen itself acts as a filter, cleansing the blood from foreign particles. In it, some proteins are formed, from which then immunoglobulins are formed, which fight against the infection that has penetrated into the body.
The spleen also controls the work of the bone marrow to make blood cells, controls blood circulation. In addition, under extreme conditions, for example, when the amount of blood in the body drops sharply during heavy bleeding, it can throw red blood cells into the bloodstream. But the main task of the spleen is to dispose of its red blood cells that have become obsolete: this is where they break up into separate elements.
The most interesting is that the spleen is not a vital organ. That is, if it is deleted, then this does not particularly affect human health. Apparently, other organs assume the functions of the spleen in such cases, although this statement is not yet supported experimentally.
The most common splenomegaly is an enlarged spleen. But splenomegaly itself is not a disease, but a manifestation of any diseases and pathological conditions of both the spleen itself and other organs and systems. An enlarged spleen is characteristic of many inflammatory and infectious diseases: hepatitis, typhoid and typhus, malaria, mononucleosis, syphilis, as well as blood diseases, cardiovascular diseases, etc. Often, the liver (hepatolienal syndrome) is also affected along with the spleen, which manifests itself with nausea , pain and heaviness in the right and left hypochondria, poor appetite, impaired stool.
As a separate disease, inflammation of the spleen practically does not occur, the inflammatory process in this organ can develop with serious infections (tularemia, tuberculosis, etc.), bowel or liver damage. The inflammatory process, not affecting the peritoneum, does not manifest itself. If the peritoneum is affected, there is a sharp pain in the abdomen, the temperature rises a little, sometimes nausea and vomiting occur.
Spleen infarction occurs when the artery supplying it is blocked by an atherosclerotic plaque, a blood clot, or an accumulation of bacteria. As a result, the spleen tissue site is deadened and its functions are impaired. If a small area of the organ is affected, the symptoms may not be present or there may be slight pain in the left hypochondrium. Significant damage is characterized by severe pain, aggravated by any movement, cough. Blood pressure decreases, and after a few hours the temperature rises and chills appear. In some cases with a splenic infarction, it has to be removed.
Spleen tuberculosis is a consequence of pulmonary or renal tuberculosis that occurs in the body, from which the causative agent of the disease enters the spleen with blood and lymph flow. No significant symptoms are observed; with a long process, the spleen is greatly enlarged, and fluid can accumulate in the abdominal cavity.
Damage to the spleen occurs with injuries, wounds, and surgical operations. Damage may be open when the capsule remains intact, and only the tissue of the organ is damaged, and complete, in which the spleen is torn or detached from the tissue to which it is attached. At the same time there are symptoms of bleeding: pressure drop, dizziness, fainting, pallor of the skin. There is also pain: it can be of different intensity, both small and strong, giving to the left shoulder blade. If the spleen is damaged, the patient needs emergency care, otherwise in the overwhelming majority of cases the case will be fatal. If the damage is small: cracks, tears, they are stitched. With significant damage, the spleen is removed.
Spleen abscess, that is, accumulation of pus in its tissue, most often occurs when it is damaged, but may also be a complication of an infectious or other disease. Abscesses are single and multiple, with the size of a pinhead to the child’s fist. Minor ulcers, as a rule, cicatrize or dissolve themselves, large give a variety of complications, and the most serious – a breakthrough of pus in the abdominal cavity or in the renal pelvis.