What is enlarged liver and spleen?

An enlarged liver and spleen, medically known as hepatosplenomegaly, occur when the liver and spleen swell beyond their normal size.

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The liver is a large accessory organ in the digestive system, responsible for a number of functions including bile secretion to break down food, storage of iron and vitamins, production of blood proteins, and elimination of old red blood cells. Many medications are also metabolized through the liver. The liver is located in the upper-right quadrant of the abdomen, with the lower edge connecting to the lower edge of the rib cage.

Normally, you would not be able to feel your liver, except, perhaps, when you take a deep breath. However, an enlarged liver can be easily palpated (felt) by your health care provider during an exam. The condition of having an enlarged liver is known as hepatomegaly.

The spleen is part of the lymphatic system, which plays a role in immunity and maintenance of healthy blood cells. It is an important organ and is affected by disorders of the blood, liver, and immune system. An enlarged spleen is known as splenomegaly.

Although hepatosplenomegaly often produces no symptoms, it is known to cause abdominal pain in the upper portion of your abdomen. Seek prompt medical care if upper abdominal pain is persistent and its severity increases upon taking deep breaths or eating.

SYMPTOMS

What other symptoms might occur with enlarged liver and spleen?

Hepatosplenomegaly may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. The condition may not always present with symptoms, but may be detected by your health care provider upon examination.... Read more about enlarged liver and spleensymptoms

CAUSES

What causes enlarged liver and spleen?

Enlarged liver and spleen has a variety of causes including infections, blood disorders, liver disease, and cancers.... Read more about enlarged liver and spleencauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Digestive System


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