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What is a Diplomate?
The term "ACVS Diplomate" refers to a veterinarian who has been board certified in veterinary surgery.

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Splenic Torsion

Associated Terms:

Twisted Spleen

The term "ACVS Diplomate" refers to a veterinarian who has been board certified in veterinary surgery. Only veterinarians who have successfully completed the certification requirements of the ACVS are Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons and have earned the right to be called specialists in veterinary surgery.

Your ACVS board-certified veterinary surgeon completed a three-year residency program, met specific training and caseload requirements, performed research and had research published. This process was supervised by ACVS Diplomates, ensuring consistency in training and adherence to high standards. After completing the residency program, the individual passed a rigorous examination. Only then did your veterinary surgeon earn the title of ACVS Diplomate.


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.

Signs and Symptoms: 

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
  • vomiting
  • inappetence
  • 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.


Patients are stabilized prior to surgery with fluid therapy and blood products if necessary. Surgical removal of the spleen is the most commonly performed procedure to correct the torsion. (Figure 1).

Aftercare and Outcome: 

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.

Content Theme: 
Also known as: 
Splenic Torsion
Twisted Spleen

This Animal Health Topic was written by and reviewed by Diplomates of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.  Any opinions stated in this article are not necessarily the official position of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons.

The American College of Veterinary Surgeons recommends contacting an ACVS board-certified veterinary surgeon or your general veterinarian for more information about this topic.

To find an ACVS Diplomate, visit www.acvs.org/find-a-surgeon.