Spleen

The spleen is an organ of the haematological system and has a role in immune response, storage of red blood cells and hematopoiesis.

The spleen is a wedge-shaped organ lying mainly in the left upper quadrant (left hypochondrium and partly in the epigastrium) and is protected by the left 9th to 11th ribs. It is soft, highly vascular and dark purple in colour.

Size and weight vary from person-to-person but on average is around 2.5 cm thick, 7.5 cm broad and 12.5 cm in length. For paediatric measurements, see the article spleen size (paediatric)

The spleen has two poles (superior and inferior), three borders and two surfaces (diaphragmatic and visceral). It is enclosed by a thin capsule, which is easily ruptured. 

The spleen is completely covered by peritoneum, except at the hilum, and forms a number of ligaments 6, 7:

  • gastrosplenic ligament
    • attaches the spleen to the greater curvature of the stomach
    • contains short gastric and left gastroepiploic arteries
  • splenorenal ligament
    • attaches the spleen to the left kidney
    • contains splenic artery and vein and the pancreatic tail
Relations
  • diaphragmatic surface (superoposteriorly): dome of the left hemidiaphragm
  • visceral surface (anteromedially)
    • pancreatic tail
    • left kidney and adrenal gland
    • stomach
Ultrasound
  • best assessed in the supine, left lateral position with the left arm placed behind the head
  • visualized best obliquely in the 9th or 10th intercostal spaces
  • echogenicity usually higher when compared to the liver, but may be iso- or hypoechoic
CT

Abdominal and pelvic anatomy
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Article Information

rID: 9737
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Spleen anatomy

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    Case 1: arterial phase
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    Case 2: splenic position and outline on plain film
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    Case 3: arterial phase
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