A splenic infarction is tissue death in the spleen caused by interruptions to the oxygen supply for this organ. Management of this condition involves monitoring the patient for signs of complications and intervening if necessary with surgery and other treatments. Many patients are able to keep their spleens, depending on the extent of the oxygen deprivation and other factors. Usually, the earlier the treatment, the better the patient outcome.
Splenic infarctions occur when a block along the splenic artery or one of its branches develops. This can be the result of a clotting disorder or an underlying infection. The patient usually experiences acute pain in the abdomen and may feel nauseous because of the pain. A doctor can request medical imaging studies to determine what is going on. Tissue death will be visible on the study, as will bleeds, occlusions, and other issues.
Immediate treatment for a splenic infarction is usually pain relief to keep the patient comfortable. The case may be surgical if the spleen appears infected or abscessed, or if there is a bleed in the abdomen. The surgeon may be able to approach using minimally invasive techniques to limit scarring and reduce healing time. In surgery, the doctor will determine if the spleen can be preserved. If possible, the surgeon will remove dead tissue and leave the spleen in place. Vascular repairs to address bleeds and other issues can be performed at the same time.
People with clotting disorders are more at risk of issues like splenic infarction, along with serious conditions such as pulmonary emboli. These patients should be alert to early symptoms of distress. Infections known to cause clotting problems and occlusions are also a cause for concern. Doctors may monitor patients with cytomegalovirus, for example, with special care so they can identify issues like infarctions as early as possible.
After a splenic infarction is resolved, the patient should feel much more comfortable. If the spleen was removed, some lifestyle adjustments may be needed and the patient will need to be careful about straining or stretching the abdomen until the surgical site is completely healed. The surgeon can provide advice on when to resume normal activities and whether any dietary modifications will be needed. Usually, clear fluids are needed immediately after splenic infarction surgery and the patient can gradually make the diet more complex, including more solids and a wider variety of foods.