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What Is a Spleen Hemangioma?

Internal organs, including the spleen, which is located to the left of the stomach.
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  • Written By: Misty Wiser
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 14 August 2014
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A spleen hemangioma is the most common type of benign mass that might develop on the spleen. A hemangioma is a slow-growing neoplasm consisting of an overgrowth of new blood vessels, and it is found most often when a patient is being screened for another illness. Benign growths usually imply that the organ affected will not require removal, but because of the concentration of blood vessels located within the spleen, a splenectomy likely be recommended by the physician.

The spleen is the storage place for red blood cells, and it filters out the old and damaged red blood cells from the body. The human body can function fully without the spleen. The spleen is most often removed because of blunt force injuries from car accidents and severe falls.

A laparoscopic splenectomy is the preferred method of removal for optimum recovery time for the patient. Laparoscopic surgery is performed by making a few small incisions and inserting a small tool to remove the affected organ. Traditional surgery involves a large incision and a longer recovery time with a greater risk of infection after the operation. Most people who receive laparoscopic surgery are able to leave the hospital within two days after the procedure. A spleen hemangioma is usually removed regardless of the size when the mass is detected, because of the risk of the spleen rupturing if it is left untreated.

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Diagnosis of a spleen hemangioma usually occurs after the patient presents at the doctor with abdominal pain and nausea. A palpable mass can sometimes be located in the upper left quadrant of the abdomen. A computed tomography (CT) scan is performed after an intravenous solution of a contrast dye is started to confirm the location and density of the mass on the spleen.

The hemangioma looks like a solid cluster with open spaces located within the mass. The benign growth will have rounded and defined edges, unlike a cancerous tumor, which presents with irregular edges. A biopsy of the spleen to rule out a cancerous growth is not typically recommended because of the risk for major blood loss.

A spleen hemangioma can be further classified as a cavernous hemangioma, which describes the size of the blood vessels that have grown together to form the hemangioma. This type of hemangioma is most commonly found in women who have been on estrogen therapy between the ages of 30 and 50. Although it is less common, some men have been diagnosed with the condition. Most patients recover fully after the removal of the spleen hemangioma.

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Discuss this Article

anon952516
Post 6

I was diagnosed in april 2009 with a splenic hemangioma. Mine ranges between 7 - 9cm diameter. I had it scanned every six months then yearly. It hasn't grown. The doctors are happy to remove it, but the only time I get any pain from it is when I am pregnant.

My sister-in-law had her spleen removed when she was 16 and her immune system has suffered terribly from it. She gets ill very easily and when she does, she gets really ill. I plan to hold onto mine (spleen) as long as possible or until they find a way to treat it without removal.

As long as I stay away from contact sports like skiing or martial arts, then I am not at a high risk of rupture. I have also decided to get a medi alert bracelet so if anything happens to me (like a car accident) they will know to check for internal bleeding first. Hope this helps someone.

anon343584
Post 5

In May 2013, a hemangioma was found on my spleen. The report says: "A large splenic mass lesion with enhancing pattern suggestive of a hemangioma 4X3.6X3.6CM indistinguishable in the delayed phase."

Sometimes it bothers me on the left side. I also feel nauseated and dizzy and my body starts to feel off. My doctor said to wait six months for a follow up. Do you think that is the best choice or should he have taken care of it right away because of its size and also because of the symptoms I am having.

SteamLouis
Post 3

@turkay1-- I don't think every doctor decides on surgery immediately when a hemangioma is found in the spleen. My doctor didn't. My hemangioma was small, so she had me wait six months and have another scan to see if there was any change. Unfortunately, it was found to be growing so I did end up having my spleen removed. But if it hadn't been growing, I would have probably just gone for check-ups every six months.

It might also make a difference where exactly in the spleen the hemangioma is located though, as well as the shape and structure of it. I'm sure your husband's doctor has considered all of these factors before suggesting surgery. But if you are worried, you can always get a second opinion with another doctor. It's my understanding that spleen hemangioma treatment usually means spleen removal though.

discographer
Post 2

@turkay1-- I'm not an expert but I think that the spleen has to be removed because the doctor can't be sure that the hemangioma is not cancerous. Hemangioma is an abnormal growth, so it's a tumor. It doesn't have to be malignant, but since the spleen can't be biopsied, a doctor cannot be one hundred percent sure. That is why the spleen is removed as a preventative measure.

I think the main issue after a splenectomy (spleen removal surgery) is that the person is at a higher risk for infections. The spleen plays a very important role in protecting us from infections. So someone who has had their spleen removed has to watch out for early signs of infection and get treatment for it right away. As long as infections are prevented and kept under control, not having a spleen doesn't pose a major risk for health.

candyquilt
Post 1

If the spleen is so vital to the body, what happens when the spleen is removed because of a hemangioma? How will the red cells be stored and how will the old cells be filtered? Isn't there any way to treat a hemangioma without removing the spleen?

My husband was told told last week that he has a spleen hemangioma which was discovered while he was being examined for something else. The doctor is planning on removing his spleen in a couple of weeks.

My husband is not the one to ask many questions, so I'm trying to find out more about what a spleen hemangioma is and what can be done about it. Of course, we will follow whatever the doctor recommends. But considering that the hemangioma is not cancerous, I don't understand why it's necessary to remove the spleen altogether.

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