Wandering Spleen

Wandering spleen can be found on imaging studies as a spleen that is located somewhere other than it’s usual position in the left upper abdomen.  This article will discuss diagnosis, complications and treatment of wandering spleen.

What is Wandering Spleen?

A wandering spleen, also known as a floating spleen or splenoptosis, is a condition where the spleen migrates from its usual position in the upper left abdomen. The spleen is a crucial organ involved in filtering blood and fighting infections.

In individuals with a wandering spleen, the ligaments that hold the spleen in place are either elongated or weakened, allowing it to move freely within the abdomen. This mobility can lead to various health issues, including abdominal pain, bloating, and in severe cases, spleen torsion or infarction, where the blood supply to the spleen is cut off, leading to tissue death.

Symptoms of Wandering Spleen

The symptoms of a wandering spleen can vary widely from person to person. Some individuals may not experience any symptoms at all, while others may have noticeable signs. Common symptoms include:

– **Abdominal pain or discomfort:** Often reported in the lower abdomen and may vary in intensity.
– **A palpable mass:** Some patients may feel a movable lump in their abdomen.
– **Gastrointestinal symptoms:** Such as bloating, constipation, or indigestion.

In cases where the spleen becomes twisted (torsion), symptoms can quickly escalate to sharp abdominal pain, vomiting, and fever, necessitating immediate medical attention.

Causes and Risk Factors

The exact cause of a wandering spleen is not always clear, but it is often related to the weakening or malformation of the ligaments that secure the spleen. This condition can be congenital (present at birth) or acquired due to injury, pregnancy, or previous abdominal surgeries. Factors that may increase the risk of developing a wandering spleen include:

– **Ligamentous laxity:** Natural or acquired looseness of the ligaments.
– **Trauma:** Abdominal injuries that may damage spleen ligaments.
– **Pregnancy and childbirth:** Hormonal changes and physical strain can weaken abdominal structures.

Diagnosis of Wandering Spleen

Diagnosing a wandering spleen involves a combination of physical examinations, medical history, and imaging tests. Physicians may initially suspect the condition based on symptoms and a physical exam. Diagnostic imaging, such as ultrasound, CT scans, or MRI, plays a crucial role in confirming the diagnosis by visually locating the spleen’s position and assessing its condition.

Treatment Options

The treatment for a wandering spleen depends on the severity of the symptoms and the overall health of the patient. Options include:

– **Observation:** In asymptomatic cases, regular monitoring may be recommended.
– **Surgical intervention:** For symptomatic patients, surgery is often necessary. The two main surgical options are:
– **Splenopexy:** Reattaching the spleen to its correct position using synthetic materials or tissue.
– **Splenectomy:** Removal of the spleen, typically reserved for cases where the spleen is damaged or has become necrotic.

Post-Treatment Care and Considerations

After treatment for a wandering spleen, patients will need to follow up with their healthcare provider for regular check-ups. If the spleen was removed, vaccinations against certain bacteria may be recommended since the spleen plays a critical role in fighting infections. Patients who undergo splenopexy should avoid activities that may risk abdominal trauma to prevent recurrence.


A wandering spleen is a rare condition that can lead to significant health issues if not properly addressed. Understanding the symptoms, causes, and available treatment options is important for anyone diagnosed with this condition. With timely and appropriate medical care, individuals with a wandering spleen can lead healthy and active lives. Always consult with a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs.


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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