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5 quick facts about the spleen | Anatomy Snippets

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The spleen is the largest organ of the lymphatic system. It is commonly a fist-shaped ✊ organ located beneath the rib cage and above the stomach, in the left upper quadrant of the abdomen.

Here are a few fun facts about the spleen:

As part of the immune system, the spleen helps with maintenance, and acts as a filter for blood,. It contains special white blood cells known as phagocytes which devour viruses, bacteria and other microorganisms.

The spleen utilizes the mononuclear phagocyte system to recycle old and misshapen red blood cells from the body. About 90% of red blood cells are recycled in the spleen.

The spleen is made up of two types of tissue: a red pulp and a white pulp. The red pulp of the spleen is composed of connective tissue known as the cords of Billroth and many splenic sinusoids that are engorged with blood, giving it a red color. The white pulp consists entirely of lymphatic tissue and contains immune cells, B and T lymphocytes.

There is a handy number sequence to remember the dimensions, weight and location of the spleen, and it goes up in twos from the number one: 1,3,5,7,9,11.

  • The dimensions of the spleen are 1inch x 3 inches x 5 inches
  • The spleen weighs 7 ounces
  • The spleen underlies the 9th to 11th ribs

Because of the location of the spleen and its close relationship to the overlying ribs, it can be prone to injury. The most common cause of a ruptured spleen is blunt abdominal trauma, which may occur as a result of traffic collisions or sports accidents. 

Non-traumatic causes are less common. These include infectious diseases, medical procedures such as colonoscopy, and haematological diseases.

We hope you now have a whole new appreciation for this lesser known, but nonetheless hard working organ!

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