Some people are born without a spleen or have it removed for medical reasons. What can you do if your child has asplenia? Read on to find out.
Asplenia refers to the absence of normal spleen function or of a spleen, an organ located in the upper left side of the abdomen, and that’s crucial in helping our bodies fend off bacterial infections. Asplenia can either be congenital, where a person is born without a spleen or the result of a splenectomy, where the spleen is removed for a particular reason.
Some reasons for undergoing a splenectomy include problems arising from trauma to the spleen or an enlarged spleen. Certain medical conditions such as thalassaemia and hereditary spherocytosis are characterised by an enlarged spleen, which may cause problems such as discomfort, rupture, or pooling and destruction of blood cells in the spleen.
The spleen serves an important function in our immune systems by helping our bodies fight bacterial infections.
Without a spleen, a child (especially below the age of two) may have a higher risk of developing serious infections, such as overwhelming post-splenectomy infection (OPSI). Even though the risk is small and OPSI is uncommon, it can be very serious, rapidly progressive and even life-threatening if it occurs.
Without a spleen, your child is also at risk of a severe infection, primarily from bacteria such as pneumococcus and meningococcus, which may cause an inflammation of the membrane that covers your child’s brain and spinal cord.
Most infections can be avoided or prevented through these measures:
If your child has undergone splenectomy or is functionally asplenic, your doctor will likely prescribe an antibiotic for the prevention of infection. This antibiotic should be taken daily. The exact duration of the antibiotic treatment will be determined by your doctor.
If your child has just undergone splenectomy or is functionally asplenic and experiencing a fever as well as shivers and dizziness, seek prompt medical attention. Be sure to inform your doctor that your child has just undergone the surgical procedure and is missing a spleen.
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This article was last reviewed on
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
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