Multiple lesions of the spleen: differential diagnosis of cystic and solid lesions

Semin Ultrasound CT MR. 2006 Oct;27(5):389-403. doi: 10.1053/j.sult.2006.06.004.


Lesions in the spleen may be encountered in a variety of clinical settings ranging from asymptomatic patients to patients who are critically ill. Etiologies for multifocal splenic lesions include infectious and inflammatory processes, primary vascular and lymphoid neoplasms, metastatic disease, vascular processes, and systemic diseases. There is often overlap in the imaging appearance alone, so the clinical setting is very helpful in differential diagnosis. In the immunocompromised patient, multiple small splenic lesions usually represent disseminated fungal disease and microabscesses. The spleen is a relatively rare site for metastatic disease; patients with metastatic lesions in the spleen usually have disease in other sites as well. Breast, lung, ovary, melanoma, and colon cancer are common primary tumors that metastasize to the spleen. Vascular neoplasms of the spleen represent the majority of the nonhematologic/nonlymphoid neoplasms and commonly produce multifocal lesions. Splenic infarcts may be seen with localized processes such as portal hypertension or pancreatitis, or may arise from an embolic source. Radiologists should be aware of the spectrum of processes that may involve the spleen and the clinical context in which they occur.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abscess / diagnostic imaging
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Infarction / diagnostic imaging
  • Inflammation
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Spleen / blood supply
  • Spleen / pathology
  • Splenic Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Splenic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography