Wandering Spleen

National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.

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Important
It is possible that the main title of the report Wandering Spleen is not the name you expected.

Disorder Subdivisions

  • None

General Discussion

Congenital wandering spleen is a very rare, randomly distributed birth defect characterized by the absence or weakness of one or more of the ligaments that hold the spleen in its normal position in the upper left abdomen. The disorder is not genetic in origin. Instead of ligaments, the spleen is attached by a stalk-like tissue supplied with blood vessels (vascular pedicle). If the pedicle is twisted in the course of the movement of the spleen, the blood supply may be interrupted or blocked (ischemia) to the point of severe damage to the blood vessels (infarction). Because there is little or nothing to hold it in place the spleen "wanders" in the lower abdomen or pelvis where it may be mistaken for an unidentified abdominal mass.

The spleen is a small organ located in the upper left portion of the abdomen. The spleen removes or filters out unnecessary or foreign material, breaks down and eliminates worn out blood cells, and produces white blood cells, which aid the body in fighting infection. Symptoms of wandering spleen are typically those associated with an abnormally large size of the spleen (splenomegaly) or the unusual position of the spleen in the abdomen. Enlargement is most often the result of twisting (torsion) of the splenic arteries and veins or, in some cases, the formation of a blood clot (infarct) in the spleen.

"Acquired" wandering spleen may occur during adulthood due to injuries or other underlying conditions that may weaken the ligaments that hold the spleen in its normal position (e.g., connective tissue disease or pregnancy).

Supporting Organizations

Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD) Information Center

PO Box 8126
Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8126
Tel: (301)251-4925
Fax: (301)251-4911
Tel: (888)205-2311
Website: http://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/GARD/

March of Dimes

1275 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains, NY 10605
Tel: (914)997-4488
Fax: (914)997-4763
Email: AskUs@marchofdimes.org or preguntas@nacersano.org
Website: http://www.marchofdimes.org and nacersano.org

NIH/National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

P.O. Box 30105
Bethesda, MD 20892-0105
Tel: (301)592-8573
Fax: (301)251-1223
Email: nhlbiinfo@rover.nhlbi.nih.gov
Website: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/

For a Complete Report

This is an abstract of a report from the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). For a full-text version of this report, go to www.rarediseases.org and click on Rare Disease Database under "Rare Disease Information".

The information provided in this report is not intended for diagnostic purposes. It is provided for informational purposes only.

It is possible that the title of this topic is not the name you selected. Please check the Synonyms listing to find the alternate name(s) and Disorder Subdivision(s) covered by this report.

This disease entry is based upon medical information available through the date at the end of the topic. Since NORD's resources are limited, it is not possible to keep every entry in the Rare Disease Database completely current and accurate. Please check with the agencies listed in the Resources section for the most current information about this disorder.

Last Updated:  2/11/2008
Copyright  2008 National Organization for Rare Disorders, Inc.