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Digestive Disorders

Enlarged Spleen

11/30/2011

Question:

My 14 year old son has an enlarged spleen due to his liver disease. He would love to play basketball. Through research I find he can play with a spleen protector. My question is how and/or where do I get a spleen protector to enable him to play? Thank you

Answer:

Although some physicians recommend spleen guards for children/adolescents playing contact sports, there is little evidence that they are effective in reducing the risk of trauma and injury to the spleen. With that said, the need for restriction in participation in conntact sports depends upon how large the spleen is which would impact its likelihood of rupture with trauma to the abdomen. It would be helpful to find out from your physician how large the spleen is and how much impact its enlargement has on your child's blood count (hemoglobin level, white cell count and platelet count). If the spleen is only mildly increased in size with minimal effect on the blood count, then it is likely safe for him to play in contact sports.

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Response by:

James E Heubi, MD James E Heubi, MD
Professor and Associate Chair of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati