Splenic torsion occurs when the spleen rotates/twists on itself thus preventing blood drainage, causing subsequent enlargement of the spleen. It occurs more commonly in large and giant breed dogs (e.g., Great Danes and German Shepherds) with a deep-chested conformation but it can also been seen with other breeds such as English Bulldogs. It may occur on its own or in combination with gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). The actual cause may vary but trauma, previous surgery, rolling, retching, and exercise may increase the spleen’s ability to move, along with stretching of the ligaments that normally stabilize the spleen, resulting in twisting of the spleen.
Splenic torsion can be an acute (sudden) condition manifested with pain and collapse or it may be more chronic and associated with non-specific signs such as:
- intermittent abdominal pain
- abdominal distension
- weight loss
- excessive drinking and urination
Abdominal radiographs and ultrasound are extremely useful in confirming the diagnosis of splenic torsion. Other tests that may be required include blood work and urine analysis. In certain cases, an exploratory surgery may be required to obtain definitive diagnosis.
Your dog will need restricted activity for two weeks following surgery. Your dog may need to wear an E-collar or t-shirt to prevent self-trauma to the surgical site. Complications from surgery may include cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), ongoing bleeding, pancreatitis, and infection. Overall the prognosis is good with a normal quality of life expected following full recovery.