Splenomegaly in 2,505 patients at a large university medical center from 1913 to 1995. 1963 to 1995: 449 patients

West J Med. 1998 Aug;169(2):88-97.


Splenomegaly was studied retrospectively at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), School of Medicine in 301 patients from 1963 to 1995 and compared with the UCSF service of the San Francisco General Hospital Medical Center (SFGH) in 148 patients from 1979 to 1994. The combined 449 patients were classified into several diagnostic groups and were studied by means of several clinical and laboratory associations. Hepatic disease in the percentage of patients at UCSF (with those at SFGH given in parentheses) was associated with splenomegaly in 29% (41%), hematologic disease, 32% (16%); infectious diseases, 16% (36%); congestive or inflammatory disease, 10% (4%); primary splenic disease, 6% (1%); other, 5% (1%); and cause unknown, 2% (1%). Massive splenomegaly occurred in 27% of the patients of the combined series, particularly in patients with hematologic diseases. The acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) occurred in more than half of the patients with infectious diseases at SFGH and was four times frequent than in the patients at UCSF. The commonest diseases associated with splenomegaly were hematologic (lymphoma), hepatic (chronic liver disease), infectious diseases (AIDS and endocarditis), congestive (congestive heart failure), primary splenic (splenic vein thrombosis), and other (malignancy not metastatic to the spleen). In 11 patients with AIDS and massive splenomegaly, Mycobacterium avium complex occurred in 8 (73%). Splenectomy was performed in 117 patients (26%), primarily for hematologic amelioration. I conclude that for splenomegaly of unknown origin, the invasive procedure of choice for patients with hematologic associations may be a bone marrow biopsy; for hepatic association, a liver biopsy; and for infectious disease associations, a lymph node biopsy, before any consideration of a diagnostic splenectomy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology
  • Hematologic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Hospitals, General
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inflammation / epidemiology
  • Liver Diseases / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • San Francisco / epidemiology
  • Splenomegaly / epidemiology*
  • Splenomegaly / etiology
  • Time Factors