What even is the spleen?



  • Similar in structure to a large lymph node
  • Acts primarily as a blood filter
  • Removes old red blood cells and holds a reserve of blood, which can be valuable in case of hemorrhagic shock
  • recycles iron 
  • as a part of the mononuclear phagocyte system, it metabolizes haemoglobin removed from senescent red blood cells (erythrocytes). 
  •  synthesizes antibodies in its white pulp and removes antibody-coated bacteria and antibody-coated blood cells by way of blood and lymph node circulation. 


The spleen contains two main regions of tissue called white pulp and red pulp.

  • Red pulp: Contains venous sinuses (cavities filled with blood), and splenic cords (connective tissues containing red blood cells and white blood cells).
  • White pulp: Mostly consists of immune cells (T cells and B cells).


  • Enlarged Spleen (Splenomegaly): caused by eg viral mononucleosis (“mono”), liver disease, blood cancers (lymphoma and leukemia), etc
  • Ruptured spleen: can cause life-threatening internal bleeding 
  • Sickle cell disease:  inherited anaemia, abnormal red blood cells block the flow of blood through vessels and can lead to organ damage, including damage to the spleen. 
  • Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count): enlarged spleen sometimes stores excessive numbers of the body’s platelets. 
  • Accessory spleen: About 10% of people have a small extra spleen. This causes no problems and is considered normal.

It is possible to live without a spleen, but the individual will be more susceptible to various pathologies including infection. 

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