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Hyposplenism

In this photo, the spleen is the darkish oval organ in the lower middle of this photo. In your body, it is located in your upper abdoman to the left of your stomach under your ribs.

The spleen is the darkish oval organ in the lower middle of this photo.

What Is Hyposplenism?

Hyposplenism is the condition resulting from having lost spleen tissue, called atrophy of the spleen. Spleen atrophy impairs splenic functions or activities because there are insufficient tissues to do the work required.

Q: What splenic functions are impaired?

A: The spleen, apart from acting as a phagocytic filter, thus removing aging and damaged cells, is crucial in regulating immune homeostasis by linking innate and adaptive immunity, and in protecting against infections by encapsulated bacteria.1

Impaired function of the spleen therefore increases risk of infections with encapsulated bacteria because of inability to mount a proper defense and to filter and remove bacteria from the circulation.

The spleen is a highly vascular and solid organ about the size of a fist. It has a delicate structure inside that is enclosed by fibrous, elastic layers consisting of connective tissue.

The tissues within are made up of two different types of tissues, called white pulp and red pulp. White pulp carries out lymphoid functions. Red pulp filters and cleanses the blood. The spleen is situated above the stomach on the left side of the upper abdomen and firmly fixed in place by ligaments and ribs.

The spleen is an important organ of the lymph system, having the largest collection of lymph tissue in the body. It functions to produce antibodies (immunoglobulins) and white blood cells (T-cells and B-cells), help control the amount of blood in the body, keep body fluids in balance, destroy and filter out old and damaged cells2 and salvage the iron needed for producing new blood cells, and lastly, clear bacteria through production of substances that enable phagocytosis (engulfing bacteria and other unwanted particles, such as antigens, from blood).

Children and adults with hyposplenism are at risk for overwhelming infections. Management of hypospenism is directed towards preventing pneumonia by immununization against pneumonia and meningitis and treating bacterial infections as they arise, which may require hospitalization. For some patients, life-long treatment with antibiotics, such as erythromycin and penicillin, are recommended.

What Is Hyposplenism In Celiac Disease and/or Gluten Sensitivity?


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  1. Di Sabatino A, Brunetti L, Carnevale Maffè G, Giuffrida P, Corazza GR. Is it worth investigating splenic function in patients with celiac disease? World J Gastroenterol. 2013 Apr 21;19(15):2313-8. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v19.i15.2313. 

  2. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/spleendiseases.html 

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