What Does the Spleen Do?


Quick Answer

The major role of the spleen is to act as a filter for the blood by removing damaged cells, bacteria, viruses and other kinds of cellular debris. It also produces white blood cells to fight pathogens and stores red blood cells and platelets that are available to send to injured areas, especially areas with heavy bleeding. These functions all help control the amount of blood circulating in the body.

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Full Answer

The spleen is an elongated organ found in most vertebrates. It is part of the lymphatic system and has a structure that is similar to a large lymph node. The human spleen is the largest lymphatic organ and is about the size of a small fist. It has a brownish color and is located under the ribcage and above the left kidney. The inside of the spleen is divided into smaller sections called lobules and consists of white pulp tissue and red pulp tissue.

Although the spleen performs many important functions, it is not essential. Each of its functions are also carried out by other organs, including the liver and the bone marrow. A person with a damaged or enlarged spleen can have it removed and still live a full and healthy life.

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