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The spleen is an important and necessary organ, but not essential to life. You can live without a spleen - doctors remove it when it is life-threatening. But it is not true that the spleen does not have essential functions in the body: it is an organ that belongs to two systems - the lymphatic and the bloodstream.
The spleenresembles orange particles joined together. It is pressed between the stomach and the left kidney. Just below the place where it touches the stomach, it has a so-called hollow. spleen gates. They contain the branches of the artery and the splenic vein through which the blood reaches and flows from the organ.
Putting an open hand on the last few ribs on the left side, we cover the spleen with it. When we lie down, its long axis runs along the tenth rib. When we get up, the front of the organ, facing the sternum, lowers slightly, but in a he althy person it never comes out from under the costal arch. Therefore, when you feel your stomach, you won't feel your spleen.
Spleen - structure
The size and shape of the spleen largely depend onhow it is filled with blood . On average, it weighs about 150 g and holds about 50 ml of blood, although it can store several times more of it. In infectious diseases, such as typhoid fever (typhus) or malaria (malaria), it weighs up to several kilograms. Then the doctor, when palpating the abdomen, feels resistance in the left hypochondrium under his fingers. Interestingly, an enlarged spleen does not usually hurt.
Inside, this organ is made of reticular connective tissue. If we were to cut the spleen crosswise and look at the enlarged patch, we would notice two dominantcolors: white and red . They prove that the spleen belongs to two systems simultaneously: the lymphatic and the bloodstream. We would clearly see the islands of the so-called white pulp - this part of the spleen belongs to the lymphatic (lymphatic) system and, to put it simply, protects our immunity. White islets are surrounded by the so-called red pulp, the color of which is given by various blood components: erythrocytes, leukocytes, platelets and plasma cells.
The spleen is surrounded by a serous membrane and a fibrous capsule. Strands of fibrous tissue called trabeculae extend from the capsule. They enter the parenchyma in the form of bands and membranes. The trabeculae are made of elastic fibers and muscle cellssmooth. Depending on the movements of the latter, the spleen may contract and relax, sucking blood or forcing it into the bloodstream.
Spleen - Features
Research shows that the spleen begins to develop as early as around the 6th week of the fetus's life. Performs the following functions:
- It cleans up old blood cells.From at least 50 ml of blood remaining in it, the spleen captures and destroys aging red blood cells and platelets. The products of their decomposition are transferred along with the blood to the liver (from them bilirubin is formed - a component of bile).
- Supports immunity.The spleen, as part of the lymphatic system, is involved in the production of lymphocytes - immune cells. It also produces the antibodies necessary to fight infection.
- Supports cell life . The spleen produces substances that store energy and facilitate blood flow. They make it possible to keep tissues alive in the event of their oxygen deficiency (e.g. high in the mountains).
- Stores blood . Not all blood is found in the bloodstream. It happens (e.g. when the body defends itself against heat loss) that some of it is stored - mainly in the liver, but also in the spleen.
Splenectomy - spleen removal
Surgical removal of the spleen (the so-calledsplenectomy ) is performed mainly after injuries, when an organ bursts as a result of a car accident or kick in the abdomen and leads to life-threatening bleeding into the abdominal cavity.
The patient then experiences severe abdominal pain, loses strength, turns pale, has an accelerated heart rate. Due to the drop in blood pressure, he loses consciousness. He has to get to the hospital on the operating table as soon as possible. His life can be saved by removing his spleen and ligating its blood vessels.
Although it seems illogical, doctors sometimesdeliberately remove the spleen . It happens in people suffering from the so-called thrombocytopenia (low blood platelet count). They are prone to life-threatening hemorrhages. If drug treatment does not help (usually steroids), the spleen is removed. Surgery usually dramatically improves the condition of patients - they no longer have the organ that destroys old platelets and produces antiplatelet antibodies.
It is true that it is possible to live without a spleen, but a person without this organ haslower immunityand his circulatory systemworks worse- the spleen no longer stores blood or destroys defective blood cells. So we should protect her from injuries.