Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Terminology Tuesday: Hepatosplenomegaly


Hepatosplenomegaly is something that can happen in rheumatic diseases, especially in SJIA or adult onset Still's which both are more likely to cause systemic/organ issues. However, it can also happen in types of cancers, infections, and other diseases.

I always find it helpful to break down the prefixes and suffixes in medical terms, so let's do that here.

Hepat- or hepar- has to do with the liver, while splen- has to do with the spleen. The suffix -megaly indicates abnormal enlargement, so hepatosplenomegaly is the abnormal enlargement of the liver and spleen together.


There are not always obvious signs of hepatosplenomegaly. The above are some of the things to look for as a doctor, but what do we look for as patients?

People dealing with this malady can have the following:

  • Jaundice
  • Fever
  • Changes in bowel movements (looser)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Gas (belching)
  • Distended abdomen 
  • Difficulty eating (loss of appetite, harder to digest food, etc)
  • Abdominal pain
You need to make sure to seek medical care with this. As I talked about earlier, it can be a sign of cancer. It could also be a sign of infection and/or organ failure.

Do you have an idea for a medical term you'd like to see defined? Shoot me a note or comment below!

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