Definition

What is hypersplenism?

Hypersplenism is known as a disorder in which the spleen becomes increasingly active and then rapidly and prematurely destroys blood cells. One of the major functions of the normal spleen, which is located in the upper left abdomen, is to remove those blood cells from the body’s bloodstream that are abnormal, aging, or covered with antibodies. In hypersplenism, the spleen’s normal function accelerates such that the spleen begins to automatically destroy and remove blood cells that may still be normal in function. Hypersplenism is thought to be caused by a variety of other disorders. Primary (idiopathic) hypersplenism is brought on by a disorder within the spleen itself. When brought on by another disease, such as chronic malaria, rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis, or tumor, the disorder is referred to as secondary hypersplenism. Research has shown that, in general, spleen disorders are almost always secondary in nature.

How common is hypersplenism?

According to reports issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 1998, the number of diagnoses listed for hypersplenism in the US was small (about 10,000 total) for both males and females. A recent study revealed that 2% to 5.6% of individuals have an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly) on physical exam, which is often associated with hypersplenism.

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of hypersplenism?

The common symptoms of hypersplenism are

  • Enlarged spleen
  • Low level of one or more types of blood cells
  • Feeling full too soon after eating
  • Stomach pain on the left side.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consulting with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.

Causes

What causes hypersplenism?

It is believed that there are some of common causes of hypersplenis include:

  • Cirrhosis (advanced liver disease)
  • Lymphoma
  • Malaria
  • Tuberculosis
  • Various connective tissue and inflammatory diseases

Risk factors

What increases my risk for hypersplenism?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is hypersplenism diagnosed?

A diagnosis of hypersplenism requires that the individual experience such symptoms as easy bruising; susceptibility to bacterial diseases; fever; weakness; heart palpitations; and ulcerations of the mouth, legs, and feet. Many individuals will develop an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly) which may encroach on the stomach, causing stomach pain on the left side as well as a premature feeling of fullness when beginning to eat (early satiety). Other symptoms may stem from the underlying disease (such as malaria and tuberculosis) that has caused the disorder.

Because there is such a wide range of possible symptoms for this disorder, a thorough patient history should be obtained. Hypersplenism is rarely diagnosed on the basis of symptoms alone, but is usually discovered when an underlying medical condition is identified and the physician finds an enlarged spleen during the course of a physical examination. The most commonly associated symptoms are abdominal fullness or lack of appetite (inappetence).The physician’s manipulation of and pressing on the abdominal area (palpation) may reveal an abnormally enlarged spleen (splenomegaly) or a shrunken, hard liver (cirrhosis). Examination with a stethoscope may reveal abnormal vascular sounds (bruits). Fever, bruising, and ulceration may also be confirmed during this exam.

Some tests may be recommended by your doctor such as blood tests, including a complete blood count (CBC), are taken to check counts of the various types of blood cells. These tests usually reveal a decrease in white blood cells (leukopenia), red blood cells (anemia), and platelets (thrombocytopenia). Other diagnostic tests (such as liver function tests, CT scans, MRI, and ultrasound) are used to confirm an enlarged spleen (splenomegaly). Bone marrow aspiration can help to identify many of the causes of hypersplenism, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and metastatic cancer.

How is hypersplenism treated?

Most individuals with secondary hypersplenism seem to require therapy for the underlying disease (e.g., chronic malaria or tuberculosis), which must be treated to prevent further destruction of blood cells and possible spleen enlargement. In general, treatments for possible underlying diseases should be attempted prior to consideration of removal of the spleen (splenectomy). Surgical removal of the spleen (splenectomy) is often used to treat primary hypersplenism. Indications for splenectomy also include severe reduction of platelets or immune cells, direct involvement of the spleen by disorders such as leukemia and lymphoma, and the spread of cancer from other organs to the spleen. Following splenectomy, individuals will need to immunize to help combat encapsulated organisms such as Streptococcus pneumoniae.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage hypersplenism?

After the proper treatments, it is noticed that work activities may need to be restricted to reduce potential trauma that may cause the spleen to rupture.

Individuals with hypersplenism may need frequent sick leave for treatment of the disorder and its complications. If surgery is required, an extended leave of absence may be necessary for rest and recuperation.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: August 21, 2017 | Last Modified: August 21, 2017

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