Ruptured spleen

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Ruptured spleen
Side of thorax, showing surface markings for bones, lungs (purple), pleura (blue), and spleen (green).

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Rupture of the capsule of the spleen, an organ in the upper left part of the abdomen, is a potential catastrophe that requires immediate medical and surgical attention.


Life Threatening Causes

Common Causes

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular No underlying causes
Chemical/Poisoning No underlying causes
Dental No underlying causes
Dermatologic No underlying causes
Drug Side Effect Filgastrim, Tbo-filgrastim
Ear Nose Throat No underlying causes
Endocrine No underlying causes
Environmental No underlying causes
Gastroenterologic No underlying causes
Genetic No underlying causes
Hematologic No underlying causes
Iatrogenic No underlying causes
Infectious Disease No underlying causes
Musculoskeletal/Orthopedic No underlying causes
Neurologic No underlying causes
Nutritional/Metabolic No underlying causes
Obstetric/Gynecologic No underlying causes
Oncologic No underlying causes
Ophthalmologic No underlying causes
Overdose/Toxicity No underlying causes
Psychiatric No underlying causes
Pulmonary No underlying causes
Renal/Electrolyte No underlying causes
Rheumatology/Immunology/Allergy No underlying causes
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma No underlying causes
Urologic No underlying causes
Miscellaneous No underlying causes

Causes in Alphabetical Order


The spleen is an organ in the upper left side of the abdomen that filters the blood by removing old or damaged blood cells and platelets and helps the immune system by destroying bacteria and other foreign substances. It also holds extra blood that can be released into the circulatory system, if needed.



Splenic rupture permits large amounts of blood to leak into the abdominal cavity which is severely painful and life-threatening. Shock and, ultimately, death can result. Patients typically require an urgent operation, although it is becoming more common to simply monitor the patient to make sure the bleeding stops by itself and to allow the spleen to heal itself. Rupture of a normal spleen can be caused by trauma, for example, in an accident. If an individual's spleen is enlarged, as is frequent in mononucleosis, most physicians will not allow activities (such as major contact sports) where injury to the abdomen could be catastrophic.


The spleen is a useful but nonessential organ. It is sometimes removed (otherwise known as a splenectomy) in people who have blood disorders, such as thalassemia or hemolytic anemia. If the spleen is removed, a person must get certain immunizations to help prevent infections that the spleen normally fights.

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