Children's Hospital Colorado
Pediatric Surgery

Spleen Injury (Splenic Trauma)

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What is a spleen injury or splenic trauma?

Spleen injuries can occur when your child has an abdominal injury. The spleen is a fist-sized organ located in the upper left side of the abdomen. It filters and removes old blood cells and bacteria from the body and makes red blood cells.

What causes spleen injuries?

The most common cause of spleen injury is blunt trauma to the abdomen. This kind of force can happen in car crashes, bike accidents or sporting injuries.

A penetrating spleen injury is where the spleen is cut or torn. Rib fractures on the left side can also result in spleen injury.

Who gets splenic trauma?

Anybody can experience splenic trauma. Patients who have enlarged spleens for medical reasons are at higher risk of experiencing splenic trauma from smaller injuries.

Enlarged spleens can be caused by viral infections like mononucleosis. More rare conditions that can result in an enlarged spleen include:

  • Cancers, such as leukemia and lymphomas
  • Metabolic disorders, such as Gaucher disease and Niemann-Pick disease
  • Autoimmune conditions, such as lupus or sarcoidosis

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