Women admitted with abdominal pain was detected with a rare condition called wandering spleen. This happens when ligaments that normally hold the spleen in place become loose and stretched out. The spleen sits above the stomach in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen. It filters the blood in the body and produces immune cells.
The spleen travelled approximately 0.3 meters. Two days before learning about the wandering spleen, the patient had undergone a screening for liver cancer, during which doctors took medical images of her abdomen and saw her spleen sitting in its appropriate place. A day later, the woman began to experience abdominal pain and vomiting.
In the emergency department the scans revealed that the spleen had travelled to the complete opposite side of her body. The movement likely stemmed from her liver, which connects to the spleen through a system of veins. The woman had a liver condition called primary sclerosing cholangitis, a progressive disease marked by inflammation in the bile ducts that carry digestive liquids from the liver to the small intestine. This inflammation caused severe liver scarring, known as cirrhosis, making it difficult for blood to flow through the organ.
Wandering spleen can also be caused by congenital conditions, where babies are born with weak or missing ligaments that would normally stabilize the spleen. The biggest danger of leaving a wandering spleen untreated is known as splenic infarction.