Thoracic splenosis

Last revised by Liz Silverstone on 6 Jun 2023

Thoracic splenosis refers to the autotransplantation of splenic tissue into the pleural space which typically occurs after trauma. It may occur in approximately 18% of patients with combined diaphragmatic and splenic injuries and is more common after penetrating injuries.

Splenic tissue may enter the left pleural space through a diaphragmatic tear or a congenital defect and parasitizes blood supply from the pleura, chest wall, or diaphragm. 

There is a greater left-sided predilection due to the spleen being on the left.

Thoracic splenosis is usually asymptomatic and thus is usually an incidental finding at imaging performed for other reasons. It may rarely cause chest pain or hemoptysis.

Management is expectant in almost all cases where surgery is considered only indicated in occasional symptomatic patients and in situations where the diagnosis is doubtful and when it is not possible to exclude malignancy. Nodule resection is generally meant to be avoided due to procedure risk as well as possible theoretical protection against post-splenectomy sepsis.

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads