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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

613 cases of splenic rupture without risk factors or previously diagnosed disease: a systematic review

F Kris Aubrey-Bassler123* and Nicholas Sowers4

Author Affiliations

1 Primary Healthcare Research Unit, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Health Sciences Centre, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, St Johns, Canada

2 Discipline of Emergency Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, St Johns, Canada

3 Discipline of Family Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, St Johns, Canada

4 Department of Emergency Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada

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BMC Emergency Medicine 2012, 12:11  doi:10.1186/1471-227X-12-11

Published: 14 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Rupture of the spleen in the absence of trauma or previously diagnosed disease is largely ignored in the emergency literature and is often not documented as such in journals from other fields. We have conducted a systematic review of the literature to highlight the surprisingly frequent occurrence of this phenomenon and to document the diversity of diseases that can present in this fashion.

Methods

Systematic review of English and French language publications catalogued in Pubmed, Embase and CINAHL between 1950 and 2011.

Results

We found 613 cases of splenic rupture meeting the criteria above, 327 of which occurred as the presenting complaint of an underlying disease and 112 of which occurred following a medical procedure. Rupture appeared to occur spontaneously in histologically normal (but not necessarily normal size) spleens in 35 cases and after minor trauma in 23 cases. Medications were implicated in 47 cases, a splenic or adjacent anatomical abnormality in 31 cases and pregnancy or its complications in 38 cases.

The most common associated diseases were infectious (n = 143), haematologic (n = 84) and non-haematologic neoplasms (n = 48). Amyloidosis (n = 24), internal trauma such as cough or vomiting (n = 17) and rheumatologic diseases (n = 10) are less frequently reported. Colonoscopy (n = 87) was the procedure reported most frequently as a cause of rupture. The anatomic abnormalities associated with rupture include splenic cysts (n = 6), infarction (n = 6) and hamartomata (n = 5). Medications associated with rupture include anticoagulants (n = 21), thrombolytics (n = 13) and recombinant G-CSF (n = 10). Other causes or associations reported very infrequently include other endoscopy, pulmonary, cardiac or abdominal surgery, hysterectomy, peliosis, empyema, remote pancreato-renal transplant, thrombosed splenic vein, hemangiomata, pancreatic pseudocysts, splenic artery aneurysm, cholesterol embolism, splenic granuloma, congenital diaphragmatic hernia, rib exostosis, pancreatitis, Gaucher's disease, Wilson's disease, pheochromocytoma, afibrinogenemia and ruptured ectopic pregnancy.

Conclusions

Emergency physicians should be attuned to the fact that rupture of the spleen can occur in the absence of major trauma or previously diagnosed splenic disease. The occurrence of such a rupture is likely to be the manifesting complaint of an underlying disease. Furthermore, colonoscopy should be more widely documented as a cause of splenic rupture.

Keywords:
Splenic rupture; Rupture; Spontaneous; Atraumatic; Presenting complaint; Initial manifestation