A pattern-oriented approach to splenic imaging in infants and children

Radiographics. Nov-Dec 1999;19(6):1465-85. doi: 10.1148/radiographics.19.6.g99no231465.


The spleen in infants and children is commonly involved in a variety of pathologic processes. Some of these processes cause isolated splenic disease, whereas others involve the spleen as part of a systemic illness. To facilitate differential diagnosis of splenic abnormalities, a pattern-oriented approach to the imaging evaluation of the pediatric spleen was developed. With this approach, splenic anomalies are categorized as anomalies of splenic shape (clefts, notches, lobules), location (eg, wandering spleen), number (polysplenia, asplenia), or size (splenomegaly, splenic atrophy); solitary lesions (eg, cysts, lymphangiomas, hemangiomas, hamartomas); multiple focal lesions (eg, trauma, infection and inflammation, neoplasms, storage disorders); and diffuse disease without focal lesions (eg, infarction, heavy metal deposition, hemangioendotheliomas, peliosis). A variety of imaging modalities can be used in splenic assessment, including computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, and technetium-99m scintigraphy. The imaging appearance of the pediatric spleen depends on the patient's age and the modality used; however, familiarity with the spectrum of radiologic patterns of splenic involvement will facilitate correct diagnosis and prompt treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Atrophy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hamartoma / diagnosis
  • Hemangioendothelioma / diagnosis
  • Hemangioma / diagnosis
  • Hemorrhage / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lymphangioma / diagnosis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Metals, Heavy / metabolism
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Spleen / abnormalities*
  • Spleen / injuries
  • Spleen / pathology
  • Splenic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Splenic Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Splenic Diseases / metabolism
  • Splenic Diseases / microbiology
  • Splenic Infarction / diagnosis
  • Splenic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Splenomegaly / diagnosis
  • Technetium
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography


  • Metals, Heavy
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Technetium