BACKGROUND: Osler taught that splenic infarction presents with left upper abdominal quadrant pain, tenderness and swelling accompanied by a peritoneal friction rub. Splenic infarction is classically associated with bacterial endocarditis and sickle cell disease.
OBJECTIVES: To describe the contemporary experience of splenic infarction.
METHODS: We conducted a chart review of inpatients diagnosed with splenic infarction in a Jerusalem hospital between 1990 and 2003.
RESULTS: We identified 26 cases with a mean age of 52 years. Common causes were hematologic malignancy (six cases) and intracardiac thrombus (five cases). Only three cases were associated with bacterial endocarditis. In 21 cases the splenic infarction brought a previously undiagnosed underlying disease to attention. Only half the subjects complained of localized left-sided abdominal pain, 36% had left-sided abdominal tenderness; 31% had no signs or symptoms localized to the splenic area, 36% had fever, 56% had leukocytosis and 71% had elevated lactate dehydrogenase levels. One splenectomy was performed and all patients survived to discharge. A post hoc analysis demonstrated that single infarcts were more likely to be associated with fever (20% vs. 63%, p < 0.05) and leukocytosis (75% vs. 33%, P = 0.06)
CONCLUSIONS: The clinical presentation of splenic infarction in the modern era differs greatly from the classical teaching, regarding etiology, signs and symptoms. In patients with unexplained splenic infarction, investigation frequently uncovers a new underlying diagnosis.
Recommended CitationLawrence, MA MBBS MRCP, Yaacov R; Pokroy, MB BCh, Russell; Berlowitz, MB BCh, Daniel; Aharoni, MD, Dvora; Hain, MD, Daniel; and Breuer, MD, Gabriel S, "Splenic infarction: an update on William Osler's observations." (2010). Department of Radiation Oncology Faculty Papers. Paper 16.