A series of patients who were found at operation to have sustained splenic rupture is described and their immediate presenting features are detailed. Signs of peritoneal irritation were not always present and patients were not often 'shocked' when first seen. Helpful early signs included a low haemoglobin and pallor. There is a tendency to underestimate the significance of left quadrant pain in the presence of rib fractures. Peritoneal lavage and ultrasound should be more readily employed. Text book features should not be expected early and this must be taught to junior doctors who work in accident and emergency medicine.
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