Suffering a Ruptured Spleen in a Bike Accident Is Serious
August 5, 2022 | Bicycle Accidents
Your lymphatic system includes an organ called the spleen. In a bicycle accident, abdominal trauma can rupture your spleen.
A ruptured spleen can cause internal bleeding. It can also damage the spleen so severely that doctors need to remove it in a splenectomy.
Here are the consequences of a ruptured spleen and what happens if you need a splenectomy.
What Is a Spleen?
Most people have heard of the spleen. It even gets metaphorically used when someone says they need to “vent their spleen.” But the functions of the spleen are not as well known as many of the other internal organs.
Your spleen is roughly the size of your fist. It sits above and behind your stomach. Your ribs protect most of your spleen but not all of it.
The spleen has one artery feeding blood into it and one vein pulling blood out of it. These blood vessels deliver oxygen to the cells of the spleen for cell metabolism.
The spleen stores and filters the blood delivered to it. This filtering removes old blood cells. These blood cells get replaced by new blood cells formed inside the bone marrow.
The spleen also manufactures and stores white blood cells and antibodies. When you get infected by bacteria or viruses, immune cells from the spleen battle the microbes.
How Do Bicycle Accidents Cause Spleen Injuries?
Bicycle accidents can cause severe injuries. Your bicycle lacks the weight to withstand the impact of a car. You and your bike will likely get pushed or even thrown in a collision.
Bikes provide little protection for the rider. And most bicyclists do not wear any protective gear. Those who do wear protective gear have no protection for their abdomen. Even though a helmet might protect your head and face, it does nothing to protect your abdomen.
In a collision, you can get injured in three main ways:
- Hitting the car
- Landing on the ground or other stationary obstacles like guardrails
- Impacting your bike
Abdominal injuries can result from any of these impacts. The car’s hood and bumper also sit at about the level of your abdomen. An impact from a car can rupture your spleen.
If you manage to hold onto your bike, your handlebars sit right at the level of your abdomen. An impact between your handlebars and your abdomen can also rupture your spleen.
If you get ejected from your bike, your abdomen could hit a stationary object or the ground, resulting in a splenic rupture. You could even hit something with your chest, and the resulting rib fracture could puncture your spleen.
What Are the Symptoms of a Ruptured Spleen?
A ruptured spleen is a painful injury. An impact must hit your left side at the bottom of your ribcage to rupture your spleen. This can cause bruising and even fracture your ribs. These musculoskeletal injuries can cause severe pain. When the spleen tears, nerves in and near the spleen will also send pain signals.
Since the spleen serves as a blood filter, a rupture will cause internal bleeding. Blood irritates nerves, so internal bleeding from the spleen will cause severe abdominal pain.
Internal bleeding may also cause your blood pressure to drop, and you may experience symptoms of shock like chills and tremors. You might feel lightheaded or dizzy.
Your abdomen may swell with blood and become painful to the touch. You might also experience left shoulder pain due to a nerve connection between your abdomen and left shoulder.
Life After a Splenectomy
If your spleen ruptures, doctors can try to repair it. They will remove it in a splenectomy if they cannot repair it.
Without a spleen, you may become susceptible to infections. You will need to stay current on your immunizations because of your weakened immune system. You also must remain vigilant about any symptoms that might indicate an infection.
While a spleen injury is serious, it is also treatable, and you can live a fairly normal life without your spleen.
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