The spleen (anatomy and physiology of the spleen)

The spleen is an organ located in the abdominal cavity. The body has the form of a coffee bean with a length of 4-5 inches, a width of 2-3 inches and a thickness of 1-1,5 inch. The weight of the spleen is a quarter to half pound. The spleen lies behind the stomach and has several functions. The spleen removes old and damaged red blood cells, destroys circulating foreign substances, plays an important role in extramedullary hematopoiesis and immunological function.

The anatomy of the spleen
The spleen is an organ located in the abdominal cavity. The body has the form of a coffee bean with a length of approximately 4-5 inches, a width of 2-3 inches and a thickness of 1-1,5 inch. The weight of the spleen is about a quarter to half pound. The sp[leen is an organ located in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen. The spleen has a bluish red color. At the front of the spleen lies the stomach, at the back of the spleen is a portion of the left-hand aperture. The tip of the tail of the pancreas is located medially of the spleen (figure 1 and 2).
ZWHLENGELSPANCREASSPLEENZWHLSPLEENThe functions of the spleen
The spleen has several functions. One of its functions is to select the red blood cells that are old, damaged or otherwise abnormal. This old or abnormal red blood cells are destroyed by the spleen. Other circulating foreign substances are also destroyed by the spleen. Another function of the spleen is extramedullary hematopoiesis. This means that pluripotent stem cells that are present in the spleen will multiply during serious haematological stress, such as hemolytic anemia. Another function of the spleen is its immunological function. The spleen contains approximately 25% of the T-lymphocytes and 15% of the B-lymphocytes. In the spleen, antibodies may be produced. The spleen also serves as a storage of blood components such as platelets. These platelets from the spleen can be mobilized quickly.

Disorders of the spleen
There are several disorders of the spleen. Below is an overview of some of these disorders:

  • An enlarged spleen. This can have several causes such as inflammation, infection or hematological disorders
  • Atrophy of the spleen
  • Conditions for which the spleen must be removed (eg trauma)

References

  • S. Silbernagel, A. Despopoulus, 2001, Atlas of Physiology, Sesame, Baarn
  • H. Fritsch, W. K├╝hnel, 2007, Atlas of Anatomy, Internal organs, Sesame, Baarn
  • P. Kumar, M. Clark, 2002, Clinical Medicine, Saunders
  • K.L. Moore, A. F. Dalley, 1999, Clinically Oriented Anatomy, Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins