Skip to content

Ruptured Spleen

Font Size
A
A
A

Symptoms of a Ruptured Spleen

A ruptured spleen causes abdominal pain, usually severe, but not always. The severity and even the location of the pain depend on how badly the spleen has ruptured and how much blood leaks out. Pain may be felt in these locations:

  • Left side of the abdomen under the rib cage
  • Left shoulder, because nerves of the left shoulder and left side of the diaphragm originate from the same location and the rupture may irritate these nerves

Internal bleeding caused by the ruptured spleen can cause blood pressure to drop. This can cause:

  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Light-headedness
  • Fainting
  • Signs of shock, including restlessness, anxiety, nausea, and paleness

 

How Is a Ruptured Spleen Diagnosed?

A physical exam may be the only test done to diagnose a ruptured spleen. The doctor will feel the person's belly area. The abdominal area may feel hard and look swollen (distended) because it has filled with blood. If there has been a great deal of blood loss from the spleen, the patient may have low blood pressure and a rapid heart rate. Sudden low blood pressure in someone who is believed to have a spleen injury, particularly a young person, is a sign that the condition is especially severe, and emergency surgery is needed.

How Is a Ruptured Spleen Diagnosed? 

Imaging tests can help diagnose a ruptured spleen. A computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen is one of the most common methods used. During the test, a special substance, called contrast, is injected into a vein, usually in the arm. The contrast helps the doctor determine the amount of bleeding from the spleen. Active bleeding from the spleen may not be seen on an abdominal CT scan without contrast.

However, a CT scan of the abdomen may only be done if time allows. A CT scan with contrast may take awhile, and some people with spleen ruptures have died while waiting to have the test done. For this reason, a CT scan is not recommended for those with a spleen rupture who have unstable vital signs or low blood pressure due to the injury (suggesting shock).

Today on WebMD

man holding his stomach
Get the facts on common problems.
blueberries in a palm
Best and worst foods.
 
woman shopping
Learn what foods to avoid.
fresh and dried plums
Will it help constipation?
 
top foods for probiotics
Slideshow
couple eating at cafe
Article
 
sick child
Slideshow
Woman blowing bubble gum
Slideshow
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Woman with crohns in pain
Slideshow
Woman with stomach pain
Slideshow
 
diet for diverticulitis
Video
what causes diarrhea
Video