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Splenic Hemorrhage in Cats

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Splenic hemorrhage occurs when tumors of the spleen rupture, slowly bleed or invade into a blood vessel causing blood to enter the abdominal cavity. The spleen can also bleed when it is fractured or lacerated due to trauma. Splenic tumors can be either hematomas (an organized, local collection of blood) benign hemangiomas or malignant hemangiosarcomas. All forms have the potential to rupture and bleed. Depending on the degree of blood loss, and how rapidly the blood is lost, a splenic hemorrhage may be an emergency situation.

What to Watch For

  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Abdominal distension
  • Increased respiratory effort
  • Pale mucus membranes (the best place to check is the gums or inner lining of the lips)

    Other signs that might indicate a more chronic (longer term or gradual) blood loss include: anorexia, lethargy, intermittent weakness, and weight loss.

    Diagnosis

    A thorough history and physical exam is critical for prompt and accurate diagnosis. Tests may include:

  • Abdominal radiographs (X-rays)

  • Abdominocentesis, which is inserting a needle and syringe into the abdominal cavity to obtain a sample for diagnostic evaluation

  • Fluid analysis of the retrieved sample is required for definitive evaluation

  • Complete blood count

    Depending on the animal's condition and initial test results, additional tests that may be required include:

  • Biochemical profile
  • Coagulation panel
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

    Treatment

    The general approach to treatment varies on the clinical condition of the patient and the cause of the splenic hemorrhage. Treatment may include:

  • Intravenous fluid therapy
  • Blood transfusions
  • Belly wrap
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Analgesic therapy (pain medication)
  • Emergency exploratory surgery

    Home Care

    A splenic hemorrhage may be an emergency situation. Veterinary care should be given as soon as possible.

    Keep your pet calm and comfortable. Minimize stress and keep your pet warm. If a traumatic injury is suspected, be careful moving your pet, as fractures may be present.

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