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The Cat’s Spleen: Anatomical Structure, Function, Ailments and Treatments

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The Cat’s Spleen: Anatomical Structure, Function, Ailments and Treatments
by Mariana Burgos

When asked to describe the function of the heart, kidneys, or lungs, most individuals can give you a relatively accurate explanation. However, despite the fact that everyone has heard of the spleen, you are likely to be met with blank looks. Let us put an end to the mystery and explore into the realm of the feline spleen and what it does.

Anatomical Structure

The feline spleen is a dark red organ situated near the stomach, according to Dr. Bari Spielman in his article, “Structure and Function of the Spleen in Cats.” It is longer than it is wide, and it resembles a massive tongue. It is surrounded by a strong fibrous tissue capsule, and blood arteries enter and exit the spleen on the same side, in a region known as the “pedicle.”

The cat’s anatomy. (Photo from Dreamstine royalty-free images.)

Although the exact position varies at times, the spleen is normally found in the cranial section of the abdomen on the left side. The spleen can really transfer position to the right side of the body, or to the caudal section of the belly, depending on its size and form, as well as the size of the surrounding organs (for example, if the stomach is full).

The internal anatomy of the spleen is composed of “red pulp” and “white pulp” sections, as well as a “marginal zone” that divides the white and red pulp. According to Dr. Spielman, the red pulp includes multiple sinuses that are engorged with blood, giving the spleen its typical red appearance.

The red pulp filters foreign proteins, bacteria, and faulty or aged red blood cells. The white pulp is where red blood cells are formed, as well as immune system cells. The principal function of the marginal zone — the region that separates the red pulp from the white pulp — is blood filtration.

Function of the Organ

A cat can survive without a spleen. The spleen can be surgically removed if required, and most animals will be alright. However, the spleen serves crucial tasks, and having one is obviously preferable to not having one. For one thing, it aids in “hematopoiesis,” or the formation of red blood cells. The bone marrow is the primary location of red blood cell synthesis, with the spleen coming in second. The spleen is also a storage place for red blood cells and platelets, so if the body suddenly requires more red blood cells in circulation, the spleen has the potential to contract and flood the bloodstream with more blood, says Dr. Spielman.

Filtration is another crucial function of the spleen. The spleen in your cat serves as a huge filter, trapping and removing old or aberrant blood cells from circulation. The spleen also traps and removes bacteria, foreign proteins, and aged cells by phagocytosis, a process in which immune system cells within the spleen devour the offending particles. Finally, the spleen participates in the immunological response, which is an essential role.

Ailments of the Feline Spleen

Spleen disorders can be classified as either primary or secondary. Dr. Spielman tells us that the spleen itself is the location of the ailment in primary spleen illnesses. However, a systemic illness that occurs elsewhere in the body might also have a secondary effect on the spleen.

A cat being examined by the vet. (Photo from Dreamstine royalty-free images.)

Splenomegaly or splenic enlargement, according to Michele K. who wrote the article, “Enlarged Spleen in Cats”, says that it is the most prevalent aberrant finding suggesting a splenic issue. Physical examination may typically discover this by carefully touching the contents of the abdominal cavity.

There are two types of feline spleen enlargement: localized and generalized. A splenic mass is a focused enlargement of the spleen caused by localized splenomegaly. A generalized splenomegaly is a widespread swelling of the spleen. Dogs are more likely to have localized splenomegaly, but cats are more likely to have broad splenomegaly.

Once splenomegaly is diagnosed, numerous diagnostic techniques can be used to determine the reason of the enlargement. A complete blood count, serum chemical test, urinalysis, and abdominal radiographs might all be informative, according to Michele K. Abdominal ultrasonography is a great non-invasive method for determining whether the enlargement is localized or widespread, as well as for further defining the underlying illness process.

In many circumstances, collecting a sample of splenic cells is the only way to make a clear diagnosis. This can be achieved with either aspiration or biopsy. Michele K. tells us that fine-needle aspiration is a technique that involves inserting a needle linked to a syringe into the spleen. A sample from the spleen is then aspirated into the needle’s hub and sprayed onto a microscope slide. The slides are subsequently forwarded to a laboratory where a clinical pathologist will assess them. Under ultrasound guidance, aspiration can be conducted with relatively little sedation. This is a safe and dependable approach of assessing patients with splenomegaly.

Treatment/s to Spleen Disorders

The treatment choices indicated will be determined by the underlying reasons of the enlarged spleen. An enlarged spleen is usually indicative of another underlying medical issue. Before creating a good therapy for your cat, it is critical for your veterinarian to discover the reason. In extreme circumstances, splenectomy (splenectomy) may be recommended.

This is an ultrasound-guided fine needle aspirate on a cat with splenomegaly. (Photo from the Vetstream website.)

Michele K.’s says veterinarians may prescribe

1. corticosteroids to minimize inflammation in the spleen and other organs.

2. Antibiotics will be administered if the enlargement is caused by a bacterial infection.

3. Immunosuppressants, which work to suppress the immune system’s reactivity, will be used to treat autoimmune main causes.

4. Chemotherapy, which works to eliminate cancer cells in the cat’s body, can be used to treat cancer.

5. Cats with severe anemia may require iron supplements.

6. Fungal infection medications may also be provided.

As stated in Michele K.’s article, the veterinarian may need to remove all or part of the cat’s spleen in situations of splenic torsion or trauma. (splenectomy). This will be done under general anesthesia at the hospital. The entire spleen or a portion of it will be removed, and the blood arteries connected to it will be clamped and knotted. After that, the incision site will be closed. Surgery may also be required to remove any tumors or masses caused by cancer.

About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist. She is a solo parent for 16 years now because she is wife to a desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.

This article also appears in the Manila Standard

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