What does a Spleen do?

The spleen is an organ that sits on the left upper quarter of the abdomen. The spleen commonly lies under the ninth to the twelve rib, next to the stomach and pancreas.  One of the major functions of the spleen is to filter the blood of old and dying red blood cells. The spleen also stores platelets that normally help in blood coagulation and clotting.

The spleen acts like a reservoir of a special type of cell called white blood cells. The white blood cells that are stored in the spleen migrate to the injury sites and transform into messenger cells (which is the removal of dying or dead cells) that may heal wounds due to injuries.

As a result to infections and viruses the spleen can get enlarged with leukemia or lymphoma cancers, mononucleosis better known as the kissing disease or trauma with rupture to the spleen. Another issue the spleen can face is if the person develops sickle cell anemia. Being diagnosed with this can lead to your spleen improperly functioning the way it should. If you are faced with a decision if your spleen should be removed, keep this in mind. The spleen can be removed and we can live without it. However, you will run a greater risk of infections and viruses due to the dying or dead cells that will not be able to repair, since the reservoir for these special cells has been taken out.

If a decision is made to remove the spleen due to leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell anemia, or just plain blunt trauma; vaccinations are a must. Pneumonia vaccination to name one, is used to prevent infection caused by the pneumonia bacteria. Getting vaccinated is essential and will help prevent from having infections that can put you at risk.

Trauma to the spleen is critical and should not be taken lightly. The spleen is an important organ in the immune system. Immediate action should be taken should there ever be trauma to the spleen, to ensure the spleen doesn’t bust. If the spleen were to burst the patient could potentially bleed to death. However, when possible surgeons try to reserve as much of the spleen in a traumatic situation. By doing this the patient can still utilize the spleen and in the end giving the patient a less of a chance to get a bacterial or viral infection and also utilizing the spleens characteristics to help heal the patient during the recovery process.