The spleen is a soft and spongy organ situated behind and to the left of the stomach.
It is one of the important filters of blood. It removes old and worn-out red blood corpuscles, other damaged cells and foreign substances like bacteria from the bloodstream.
The spleen weighs about 200 gm in an adult and normally cannot be felt from the outside. However, there are a number of diseases which cause the spleen to swell and then it can weigh as much as 2 kg and the doctor can feel it easily through the walls of the abdomen.
A hard blow to the abdomen or a fracture of the ribs can damage the spleen. When this happens there is a tremendous loss of blood and the spleen has to be removed to stop the bleeding.
When the spleen is removed its functions are taken over by other organs. However in young people, removal of the spleen can make them more vulnerable to diseases caused by bacteria.