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Splenic Infarction

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Oct 31, 2022.

What is a splenic infarction?

A splenic infarction is a blockage that prevents blood from flowing to your spleen. Your spleen is in your left upper abdomen, just below your ribs. Your spleen is part of your lymph system and helps fight infection. It also helps control the number of blood cells that flow through your body.

Abdominal Organs

What are the signs and symptoms of a splenic infarction?

Signs and symptoms depend on the cause and severity of the infarction. You may have no signs or symptoms if your condition is mild. You may have any of the following with a more severe condition:

  • Pain in your upper left abdomen or your left hip area
  • Chest pain or a fast heartbeat
  • A swollen abdomen
  • Confusion or problems thinking clearly
  • A fever with chills
  • Nausea and vomiting

What increases my risk for a splenic infarction?

  • A disease that can cause blood clots to form, such as atrial fibrillation (A-fib) or patent foramen ovale
  • Blood cancer, such as leukemia or lymphoma
  • A condition that causes your blood to clot too much, such as sickle cell disease
  • An injury to your abdomen
  • Pancreas disorders such as pancreatitis
  • Certain autoimmune or collagen vascular diseases
  • A different spleen shape or position than usual, such as wandering spleen
  • Certain conditions that can cause an enlarged spleen, such as myelogenous leukemia or AIDS

How is a splenic infarction diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine you and ask about your symptoms. Tell him or her if you have a disease or condition that can cause splenic infarction, such as sickle cell disease. Tell him or her if you had a recent abdominal injury. You may also need any of the following:

  • Blood tests are used to check for other health problems that may be causing your symptoms. The tests will be used to check that blood is flowing correctly to your spleen.
  • CT scan pictures are used to check for signs of a blockage. You may be given contrast liquid to help a blockage show up better in the pictures. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

How is a splenic infarction treated?

Treatment may be needed for a condition causing your splenic infarction. You may need to work with a specialist if you have a condition such as a blood disorder or autoimmune disease. You may be admitted to the hospital to receive monitoring and some types of treatment.

  • Watchful waiting means waiting to see if your symptoms go away without treatment in 7 to 14 days. Your healthcare provider will monitor your condition during this time.
  • Medicines may be given to relieve pain, nausea, or vomiting. Antibiotics may be given to prevent or treat a bacterial infection. You may need other medicines if you have sickle cell disease. Your healthcare provider will give you more information on the medicines.
  • Surgery may be needed to remove your spleen. This may be done if your splenic infarction was caused by an injury.

What can I do to manage a splenic infarction?

  • Ask about vaccines you may need. Vaccines help prevent infection and illness, such as the flu, COVID-19, and pneumonia. If you have surgery to remove your spleen, your risk for infections will always be high. Your healthcare providers will give you information about vaccines to get and when to get them.
    Recommended Immunization Schedule 2022
  • Do not take aspirin or NSAIDs. These medicines may increase your risk for bleeding.
  • Limit activity as directed by your healthcare provider. He or she may tell you not to play contact sports or do heavy physical activities. Ask how long to limit activity, if needed.
  • Eat healthy foods. Healthy foods can help improve your energy and overall health. Healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet.
    Healthy Foods

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

  • You have severe pain or tenderness in your upper left abdomen.
  • You are confused or start to feel lightheaded, dizzy, or faint.
  • You have pain in your left shoulder.

When should I seek immediate care?

  • You have trouble having a bowel movement or urinating.
  • You have new or worsening symptoms.

When should I call my doctor?

  • You have a fever.
  • You have nausea or are vomiting.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

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