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.
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.