Causes of an Enlarged Liver & Spleen


Simultaneous enlargement of both the liver and the spleen is referred to as hepatosplenomegaly. This disorder is typically discovered by a health-care professional during unrelated diagnostic testing. Symptoms may not be specific and the patient is usually unaware of its existence. The liver and the spleen are vital to many bodily functions and thus affected by thousands of conditions, disorders and diseases. There are, however, some causes that are more common to the disorder than others.


Cirrhosis of the liver is a common cause of an enlarged liver and spleen. Cirrhosis stems from a variety of causes including excess alcohol consumption, viral hepatitis and specific genetic disorders. Cirrhosis involves the replacement of healthy liver tissue by scar tissue. Once the scar tissue has taken over the healthy liver tissue, the liver is unable to function properly due to the lack of blood flow. Common symptoms of cirrhosis include loss of appetite, fluid retention, jaundice (yellow eyes and skin), gastrointestinal-tract problems, abdominal swelling and dark-colored urine.

Chronic Hepatitis C

Chronic hepatitis C may also cause liver and spleen enlargement. Hepatitis C, a viral liver infection, is transmitted through infected blood. Its symptoms are primarily related to the spleen and liver problems it causes, including jaundice, vomiting and nausea, abdominal cramps, fever and dark-colored urine.

Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma

Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymph nodes and the lymphatic system. One of the side effects of the disease's progression is the swelling of both of these organs. Severe pain, as well as liver and kidney infections, are other symptoms of later stages of this type of cancer.


Leukemia, a type of cancer that involves white blood cells, is a cause of an enlarged liver and spleen as well as tenderness of both organs. Leukemia can lead to related kidney and liver disorders in addition to hepatsplenomegaly.

Sickle Cell Anemia

Sickle cell anemia stems from a genetic disorder that causes the improper formation of red blood cells. In addition to causing an enlarged liver and spleen, it may also result in jaundice, swollen hands and feet, fatigue, weakness, severe vision problems and abdominal pain.

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