Medical Q&As

Spleen - causes of enlargement?

Could you write a little bit about enlargement of the spleen in a man? He has been investigated in hospital but we would like your comments also and a little bit more information.

The spleen has a wide variety of functions and can be affected by a diverse range of medical conditions. It is involved in the manufacture and destruction of red blood cells and some of the white blood cells. It is an integral part of the lymph and immune systems. Splenomegaly, or enlargement of the spleen, is not a complete diagnosis therefore I can only answer your question in the most general of terms. Various infections can cause the spleen to enlarge such as infectious mononucleosis or glandular fever, parasitic infections and bacterial infections. Diseases of the liver can also result in enlargement of the spleen due to backpressure from the liver to the spleen through the portal vein. For example, cirrhosis of the liver can result in splenomegaly depending on the degree of damage to the liver architecture. Various types of haemolytic anaemia can also result in enlargement of the spleen. Splenomegaly can also be a feature of leukaemia, lymphoma and Hodgkin’s disease. Sarcoidosis occasionally results in splenomegaly. The list I have just given is not all-inclusive and the diseases mentioned are not listed in any rank order in terms of frequency or seriousness. The treatment of splenomegaly is based on making a comprehensive diagnosis of the underlying cause of splenic enlargement and treating that condition. Sometimes splenectomy, or removal of the spleen, may be recommended depending on the underlying diagnosis.