Splenic Infarct Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Splenic infarcts are diagnosed on imaging studies like CT and MRI.  Splenic infarcts occur when the blood supply to the spleen is compromised.  This leads to tissue death and infarcts which has a characteristic appearance on imaging.

Patients often have predisposing factors for developing splenic infarctions like blood diseases, clotting disorders and clots migrating from elsewhere in the body.  Splenic infarctions can have complications like infection, bleeding and rupture of the spleen.

What is a splenic infarct?

A splenic infarct occurs when the blood supply to the spleen is reduced.  This occurs when the splenic arteries or veins become occluded. This results in tissue death. This can involve a part of the spleen or the entire organ.

Splenic infarct symptoms

Patients can be asymptomatic or have severe pain in the left upper abdomen.  There can be referred pain to the left shoulder.  Fevers, nausea, vomiting and blood work abnormalities can occur.

What causes a splenic infarct?

A splenic infarct is caused by occlusion of the splenic arteries or veins.  This can involve a small part of the organ or the entire spleen.

Many patients have underlying disorders that contribute to development of a splenic infarction.  These are often blood diseases, blood clotting disorders and clots that travel from other parts of the body.

Other causes can include: having cancer, pancreatic cancer compressing the blood vessels of the spleen, trauma to the spleen, pancreatitis in addition to others.

How is a splenic infarct diagnosed?

Splenic infarcts are diagnosed on imaging studies like ultrasound, CT and MRI.  We can not see splenic infarcts on X-rays.

What does a splenic infarct look like on imaging?

Splenic infarcts are usually seen as wedge shaped areas darker than the spleen.  These extend to the splenic capsule.  The entire spleen can infarct.  In that case, the spleen will not enhance.

Splenic infarcts can resolve completely with time.  They can also become smaller and form scars.  Cysts can also occur at the site of prior infarcts.

What else can look like splenic infarct in radiology?

Splenic infarct has a characteristic appearance in the acute phase.  Sometimes they can be mistaken with other mass lesions of the spleen as they age or develop complications.

Trauma to the spleen can have a similar appearance, however the history will help with the diagnosis.   There may also be blood around the spleen in the case of trauma.

Is splenic infarct dangerous?

It can be because the underlying condition which predisposed to the infarct can be dangerous.  Complications of splenic infarcts can include infection, bleeding and splenic rupture.

What type of doctor treats splenic infarct?

This often depends on the underlying cause.  An internal medicine doctor and hematologist may be involved in the care.

Splenic infarct treatment

Treatment consists of supportive measures like hydration and pain control.  Diagnosing and treating any predisposing conditions is also important for treatment.

Splenic infarct: summary

Splenic infarcts occur when the blood supply to the spleen is compromised.  This results in tissue death and infarction.  Splenic infarcts and their complications can be diagnosed on imaging tests.

There are predisposing conditions for splenic infarcts which also have to be diagnosed and treated.   Splenic infarcts are treated with supportive measures and close monitoring.  Complications can include cyst formation, infection, bleeding and splenic rupture.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

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