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The Spleen A lymphatic organ that lies behind the stomach, high up on the left side of the abdomen

, on a level with the ninth to eleventh ribs. The spleen of an adult human weighs about 170 grams (6 ounces), and is 13–15 cm (5–6 in.) long, 7.5 cm (3 in.) wide, and 4 cm (1.5 in.) thick. It is elongate-oval in shape and of a dull purplish color. Although the spleen is located near the stomach it plays no part in digestion but is concerned only with the blood and the lymph and their circulations. All vertebrates have a spleen. Structure of the spleen The spleen is similar to a lymph node in shape and structure but is much larger. In fact, it is the largest lymphatic organ in the body. It is enclosed in an elastic capsule of connective tissue, which extends inward to divide the organ into lobules. The spleen consists of two types of tissue called white pulp and red pulp. The white pulp is lymphatic tissue consisting mainly of lymphocytes around arteries. The red pulp consists of venous sinuses (cavities) filled with blood and cords of lymphatic cells, such as lymphocytes and macrophages. Blood

Such aging cells are collected by the spleen and destroyed. luein. assuming an appearance rather like a brush. they are sometimes called the brush arteries. An erythrocyte ceases to work effectively as an oxygen-carrier after about 15–16 weeks.) Like other lymphatic tissue. Each one of these arteries leads to a sinus whose function is to store the blood. produce new red blood cells. removes old and damaged erythrocytes (red blood cells) from the circulating blood. along with the liver. blood. when they are full the sinuses swell up and treble their volume. The hemoglobin contained in them is broken down and used by the liver to make bile. Blood storage The splenic artery enters the spleen through a fissure called the hilum and divides into numerous branches. smooth muscle in the vessel walls and in the capsule of the spleen contracts. . In emergencies such as hemorrhage. to dissolve or destroy.enters the spleen through the splenic artery. and the other large particles. Macrophages then engulf the resulting debris. moves through the sinuses where it is filtered. Lymphocytes in the spleen react to pathogens in the blood and attempt to destroy them. and the iron in the recycled to make fresh hemoglobin. Production and destruction of blood cells The spleen filters blood in much the way that the lymph nodes filter lymph. like the bone marrow. This squeezes the blood out of the spleen into the general circulation. especially in response to invading pathogens. the spleen produces lymphocytes. poiein. then leaves through the splenic vein. to produce. the damaged cells. The spleen. It can accordingly be regarded both as a hemolytic and as a hemopoietic organ (These terms come from the Greek: hema. The spleen can also. The spleen increases in volume while digestion is in progress and returns to its normal size when it is finished.