The spleen is an organ located in the left upper part of the abdomen. It is part of the body's immune system, helping to fight infections — especially infections caused by bacteria. It also has a role in the development of blood cells and helps to remove old blood cells from the bloodstream. The spleen may play a harmful role in causing certain kinds of anemia by improperly destroying red blood cells. Symptoms of anemia include paleness, weakness, and shortness of breath; and anemia can cause an abnormal stress on the heart. The spleen may also inappropriately destroy platelets, causing thrombocytopenia (a low platelet count). This can be associated with abnormal bleeding, manifested by easy bruising, red spots on the skin ("petechiae"), internal bleeding, rectal bleeding, and vaginal bleeding. The spleen is also susceptible to injury from trauma, such as falling or a car accident.
Surgical removal the spleen may lead to marked improvement in anemia and thrombocytopenia in certain patients, and this can usually be performed laparoscopically, using small incisions and a camera.