Surgery pp 1111-1132 | Cite as


  • Alan T. Lefor
  • Edward H. Phillips


The spleen has long been an organ of interest in popular as well as medical literature. Historically, the spleen has been associated with more functions than any other organ.1 Of interest, the spleen had long been associated with the ability to run, with references in ancient literature to splenectomy being performed to allow men and horses to run faster. As recently as 1922, this myth was tested in the laboratory at Johns Hopkins University, where Macht and Finesilver observed that asplenic mice were able to run faster than mice with an intact spleen.2 The ancient Greeks attributed the origin of black bile to the spleen. In the 16th century, Paracelsus (1490–1541) wrote that the spleen was a superfluous organ that should be excised when diseased. Vesalius (1514–1564) excised the spleens of many animals without adverse effects, supporting his contention that the spleen is not essential to life.1 A number of experimental surgeons demonstrated in the next century that animals could live without their spleens. There are a number of “case reports” from the late 17th century in which successful partial splenectomies are described after traumatic prolapse of the spleen through penetrating wounds.


Splenic Artery Laparoscopic Splenectomy Hairy Cell Leukemia Splenic Injury Laparoscopic Staging 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan T. Lefor
    • 1
  • Edward H. Phillips
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryJichi Medical University, Center for Graduate Medical EducationShimotsuke, TochigiJapan
  2. 2.Center for Minimally Invasive Surgery, Department of SurgeryCedars-Sinai Medical CenterLos AngelesUSA

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