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What Are the Treatments for a Swollen Spleen?

by
author image Adam Scarano
Adam Scarano began writing as a freelancer in 2010 focusing on the fields of graphic design and media. He graduated from the Metropolitan State College of Denver with a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in digital media.

Spleen enlargement, or splenomegaly, is not actually a disorder but rather the symptomatic manifestation of different disorders such as repeated parasitic infections, certain metabolic disorders or cirrhosis of the liver. The treatment for an enlarged spleen is determined by the underlying cause thus, antiviral drugs would used for viral-related infections of the spleen, radiation therapy would be prescribed for spleen-related cancers such as Hodgkin's lymphoma, and removal of the spleen, or splenectomy, would be appropriate in cases with the worst prognosis.

Splenectomy

Splenectomy is the surgical removal of the spleen and is usually associated with cirrhosis of the liver or hereditary spherocytosis, a blood disorder that leads to the formation of abnormally fragile red blood cells. Additionally, splenectomy may be an option when an enlarged spleen causes serious health complications or the underlying cause of the enlarged spleen can not be identified. Because a splenectomy decreases the body's ability to filter invading pathogens, the patient is highly vulnerably to infectious agents and surgical sepsis, notes the Encyclopedia of Surgery. To reduce the risk of surgical sepsis, vaccinations should be administered before the surgery. A physician might recommend a two-year course of antibiotics as well.

Radiation Therapy

Chronic lymphocyte leukemia is a type of cancer often associated with splenomegaly. According to CancerHelp UK.org, radiation therapy is administered to help shrink the enlarged spleen and relieve the associated pain and abdominal discomfort. Radiation therapy effectively reduces the symptoms associated with chronic lymphocyte leukemia by utilizing high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells. The rapid replication of the cancer cells causes the spleen to enlarge and destroy healthy red blood cells. While radiation therapy is an effective treatment for certain types of cancer that affect the spleen and red blood cells, it is generally not the first choice of treatment.

Antimalarial Drugs

Tropical splenomegaly syndrome is an idiopathic disorder prevalent in tropical regions. It is characterized by splenomegaly, elevated levels of serum IgM levels and enlarged liver, or hepatomegaly, caused by abnormal immune responses as a result of repeated malarial infections. Antimalarial drugs such as chloroquine and proguanil are effective in treating tropical splenomegaly syndrome, but they must be administered for a prolonged period of time. This extended treatment period helps to effectively clear the antigen buildup from repeated malarial infections that results in elevated IgM levels and subsequently, an enlarged spleen.

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