Robert M. Abbott, MD ; Angela D. Levy, LTC, MC ; Nadine S. Aguilera, MD ; Luis Gorospe, MD ; William M. Thompson, MD
1 The opinions and assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official nor as reflecting the views of the Departments of the Army or Defense.
Primary vascular neoplasms of the spleen constitute the majority of nonhematolymphoid splenic tumors. The benign primary vascular tumors include hemangioma, hamartoma, and lymphangioma, whereas those of variable or uncertain biologic behavior include littoral cell angioma, hemangioendothelioma, and hemangiopericytoma. The primary malignant vascular neoplasm of the spleen is angiosarcoma. Peliosis is a rare lesion of unknown cause that is usually found incidentally in asymptomatic patients but may be associated with hematologic or metastatic disease. Although these vascular neoplasms of the spleen are uncommon, their importance lies in that they must be differentiated from the more common neoplastic disorders of the spleen, such as lymphoma and metastasis. The most common echogenic solid or complex cystic mass in an asymptomatic patient is splenic hemangioma. However, the imaging appearance of splenic hemangiomas may be complex, and differentiation of these lesions from malignant disease may not be possible. The diagnosis of splenic hamartoma may be suggested when findings of increased blood flow on color Doppler images are seen in association with a homogeneous solid echogenic mass. A large subcapsular solitary cystic abnormality discovered incidentally in a child in association with internal septations and tiny mural nodules favors the diagnosis of lymphangioma. Any invasion of the surrounding splenic parenchyma by a splenic lesion should indicate a more aggressive or malignant process. Evaluation of a focal splenic abnormality identified on sonograms should be followed up with computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging with and without contrast material enhancement. Splenectomy may be required for definitive evaluation of a splenic mass with atypical features.