Symptoms and causes

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of a ruptured spleen include:

  • Pain in the upper left abdomen
  • Tenderness when you touch the upper left abdomen
  • Left shoulder pain, particularly if you also have cuts and bruises on the left chest or side
  • Confusion, lightheadedness or dizziness

When to see a doctor

A ruptured spleen is a medical emergency. Seek emergency care after an injury if your signs and symptoms indicate you may have a ruptured spleen.

Causes

A spleen may rupture due to:

  • Injury to the left side of the body. A ruptured spleen is typically caused by a blow to the left upper abdomen or the left lower chest, such as might happen during sporting mishaps, fistfights and car crashes. An injured spleen may rupture soon after the abdominal trauma or, in some cases, days or even weeks after the injury.
  • An enlarged spleen. Your spleen can become enlarged when blood cells accumulate in the spleen. An enlarged spleen can be caused by various underlying problems, such as mononucleosis and other infections, liver disease, and blood cancers.

Complications

A ruptured spleen can cause life-threatening bleeding into your abdominal cavity.

April 08, 2016
References
  1. AskMayoExpert. Splenectomy. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  2. AskMayoExpert. Splenic injury. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2015.
  3. Yeo CJ, et al., eds. Management of splenic trauma in adults. In: Shackelford's surgery of the alimentary tract. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Elsevier Saunders; 2013.
  4. Brunicardi FC, et al., eds. Spleen. In: Schwartz's Principles of Surgery. 10th ed. New York, N.Y.: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed Feb. 5, 2016.
  5. Taner T, et al. Splenectomy for massive splenomegaly: Long-term results and risks for mortality. Annals of Surgery. 2013;258:1034.
  6. Bartlett A, et al. Splenic rupture in infectious mononucleosis: A systematic review of published case reports. Injury. In press. Accessed Feb. 5, 2016.
  7. Khasawneh MA, et al. Post-splenectomy sepsis in children: A 48-year population-based study. Journal of the American College of Surgeons. 2015;221:S106.
  8. Polites SF, et al. Benchmarks for splenectomy in pediatric trauma: How are we doing? Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2015;50:399.
  9. Barbara Woodward Lips Patient Education Centers. Splenectomy: Spleen removal. Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2014.
  10. Goldman L, et al., eds. Approach to the patient with lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly. In: Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 5, 2016.
  11. Marx JA, et al., eds. Abdominal trauma. In: Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Feb. 9, 2016.
  12. Rubin LG, et al. Care of the asplenic patient. New England Journal of Medicine. 2014;371:349.
  13. Edgren G, et al. Splenectomy and the risk of sepsis: A population-based cohort study. Annals of Surgery. 2014;260:1081.