Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Author Question: Major vs. Minor Organs

When I first got this author question, I thought, okay-- this should be really simple. A major versus minor organ-- easy right?

Until I started to think about it.

What I would consider the major organs would be the brain, heart and lungs. Then I began to think about some of the minor organs (liver, stomach, etc...) that become very problematic if they aren't functioning correctly causing major problems for the patient.
Then I thought-- this isn't really a distinction I make in medicine. For instance, it's not a term used on a daily basis. So, then I wondered if someone did use that type of terminology.
On with Dee's question.

Dee Asks:

I'm wondering if/hoping you could answer a quick question for me...

Is a spleen considered a major organ? Or not so much because it's not vital to the body?

Jordyn Says:

Not sure how I would answer. Why is it important to make the distinction?

This isn't a distinction we make in medicine.

Maybe this explains my difficulty:


Dee J. Adams is the author of the Adrenaline Highs series published by Carina Press. Her first book, Dangerous Race, was a finalist in the 2012 Golden Quill Contest. Adams also has the distinction of being hired by to narrate Danger Zone and Dangerously Close. Living Dangerously will be a May 2013 release. New York Times bestselling author Suzanne Brockmann says: “Dee J. Adams delivers it all in Danger Zone: romance, intrigue, and a cast of characters to fall in love with, authentically set in the gritty and entertaining world of movie-making. This one’s on my keeper shelf!” You can connect with Dee J. via her website:


  1. My first thought besides the heart & brain & lungs was skin. . .that's a pretty major one! That's definitely one of those row-of-dominoes questions! Let's just keep 'em all! (Although I'm doing quite well without a couple that were causing more trouble than they were worth!)

  2. In anesthesia, we divide organs into the vessel rich group( brain, heart, liver, kidneys, and endocrine system), muscle group (skin and muscle), fat group, and the vessel poor group (cartilage, bone, teeth, hair). This is based on how gas anesthetics are taken up in the body based on blood flow. But it's like the old song, "the hip bones connected to the thigh bone.." etc., it really does all have a purpose and we are better with keeping them all! The question was about the spleen. You CAN live without it but there is a higher risk of infection since the spleen plays a part in your immune system. And from a surgical standpoint, it is usually removed because it has become injured and major blood loss is a very real concern when the spleen ruptures. Maybe not a major organ as we think about the heart but injuring one or not having one can lead to major complications!

    1. Thanks for the input! Very interesting and good info.

  3. Linda-- so true. One organ failing can start a very bad domino falling.

    Kim-- good points! And interesting that's the way the patient is thought of for anesthesia.