What Really Happens When You Rupture Your Spleen

The spleen may be a small organ in the body, but it's mighty. It may not be as well known as the stomach or bladder, but the spleen is responsible for several important functions. The spleen sits on the left side of the abdomen behind the stomach and ribs (via Healthline). It helps clear bacteria from the body, making it an essential aspect of the immune system. Because it's also part of the lymphatic system, it helps create white blood cells when it detects bacteria and viruses in the blood.

It's fist-shaped, oval, and purple, becoming larger when you're ill or injured. If you suffer from a disease that breaks down too many blood cells, it can cause the spleen to overwork and become enlarged, according to Healthline. This can be due to infections like malaria or mononucleosis, blood cancers, liver disease, inflammatory diseases like lupus, or a cyst on the spleen. Unfortunately, one of these conditions can also lead to a rupture, according to Cleveland Clinic.

Why spleens rupture and side effects to look for

While the aforementioned conditions won't necessarily cause a rupture, they cause spleen enlargement, which can lead to a rupture. Ruptures can occur due to blunt force trauma, car accident injuries, contact sport injuries, or assault (via Cleveland Clinic). A spleen rupture causes severe pain on the left side of the abdomen, which can radiate to the left shoulder and make it hard to breathe. Internal bleeding can also occur, leading to lightheadedness, confusion, restlessness, nausea, and faintness.

If the rupture is severe, it will need to be treated with surgery, according to Mayo Clinic. The spleen may be surgically repaired with stitches, partially removed, or entirely removed, called a splenectomy. If the damage is minor or moderate, surgery may not be necessary. You may be evaluated in a hospital setting and receive nonsurgical care, like blood transfusions. Rest and time, along with close monitoring, may also help with recovery. Contact a medical provider immediately if you suspect you have a ruptured spleen.