The Symptoms and Causes of a Ruptured Spleen

The spleen is a delicate organ, located directly under the ribcage on the left side of the body. This fist sized organ helps the body fight infection and filter blood, making it both vitally important, while also extremely vulnerable and fragile. 

Any sort of forceful impact, trauma, or blow to the left side of the abdomen has the potential to rupture the spleen. A ruptured spleen is an emergency medical situation that requires immediate treatment, and typically emergency surgery to remove the spleen (splenectomy). Read on to learn about the common symptoms and causes of a ruptured spleen.

Herniation caused by a ruptured spleen


Symptoms of a Ruptured Spleen

The most common and clear symptom of a ruptured spleen is severe pain in the left side of your abdomen. However, the pain can also be felt all the way up in the left shoulder, making breathing difficult or painful. This is because ruptured spleens can cause bleeding that irritates the phrenic nerve, a nerve that starts in the neck and runs through the diaphragm. When this occurs, it’s called Kehr’s sign.

There are other symptoms to watch out for, including:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Blurry vision
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Restlessness or anxiety
  • Paleness
  • Drop in blood pressure


Common Causes of a Ruptured Spleen

Forceful trauma or blunt impact to the abdomen is the most common cause of a ruptured spleen. At the Thistle Law Firm, our attorneys most often see ruptured spleens that result from car accidents.

In head-on vehicle collisions, the seatbelt that crosses above the left abdomen can put pressure directly on the spleen. Deployed airbags, or impact from the vehicle frame or door can also deliver powerful blows to the left side of the abdomen and injure the spleen. A ruptured spleen that occurs due to a car accident may also be accompanied by other related external car accident injuries, such as a fractured rib. 


Other Causes of a Ruptured Spleen

Besides car accidents, a ruptured spleen may be the result of:

  • Sports injuries
  • Assault
  • Falls

Certain infections, metabolic disorders, liver disease, as well as some cancers may also cause the spleen to swell. This can result in the walls of the spleen becoming thin and prone to rupture. 


Diagnosis and Treatment of a Ruptured Spleen

After any forceful trauma to the left side of the abdomen that is followed by severe pain, a doctor will likely perform an ultrasound or a CT scan of the abdomen to confirm a diagnosis of a ruptured spleen. If they don’t investigate for a ruptured spleen after this presentation, you may have standing to file a medical malpractice suit. 

The medical team will then decide whether the spleen needs observation or surgical intervention. Most ruptured spleens will require immediate surgery called a splenectomy, in which the surgeon will remove the entire spleen. In some cases, the surgeon may be able to repair the tear and put pressure on the spleen until the bleeding has stopped. 

For those with a minor splenic rupture, the medical team should keep the patient under strict observation, usually in conjunction with active treatment and possible blood transfusions. They should be continually monitored with scans such as a CT scan. 

Traumatic splenic rupture in CT Scan


How Much Compensation Do You Get for a Ruptured Spleen?

If your spleen was ruptured after a car accident that was due to another driver’s negligence, you may be wondering how much compensation you are entitled to. Unfortunately, putting an exact number on this type of injury is not possible without knowing the particulars of your case. 

Of course, your medical bills and property damages should be compensated after any type of car accident in which you are not at fault. But what about the pain and suffering that is caused due to the removal of a vital organ? While it is possible to survive without a spleen, how do you calculate the inevitable toll that living without a spleen can take on your body?

The Philadelphia car accident attorney’s at the Thistle Law Firm have years of experience helping victims of car accidents receive the compensation they deserve after being seriously injured due to another driver’s negligence. You can get a better understanding of what your ruptured spleen claim might amount to with a free consultation, by calling us at 215-525-6824. We can also be reached online via our contact form.


Leave a Comment