Vaso-occlusive crisis

A vaso-occlusive crisis is a common painful complication of sickle cell anemia in adolescents and adults.[1][2] It is a form of sickle cell crisis. Sickle cell anemia – most common in those of African, Hispanic, and Mediterranean origin – leads to sickle cell crisis when the circulation of blood vessels is obstructed by sickled red blood cells, causing ischemic injuries. The most common complaint is of pain, and recurrent episodes may cause irreversible organ damage.[2] One of the most severe forms is the acute chest syndrome which occurs as a result of infarction of the lung parenchyma. This can rapidly result in death. Other types of vaso-occlusive crisis in sickle cell anemia include dactylitis, priapism, abdominal pain, and jaundice.
1)Full blood count to check for Hemoglobin levels and
2) Rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for Malaria to be able to rule out malaria in the patient

Vaso-occlusive crisis



The management of an acute event of vaso-occlusive crisis is the use of potent analgesics (opioids),[3] rehydration with normal saline or Ringer's lactate, treatment of malaria (whether symptomatic or not) using artemisinin combination therapy, and the use of oxygen via face mask, especially for acute chest syndrome. Hyperbaric oxygen has also been shown to be a useful adjunct in pain reduction.[4] Antibiotics may be utilized because patients usually have occult infection due to a "functional asplenia".


  1. Stuart MJ, Nagel RL (2004). "Sickle-cell disease". Lancet. 364 (9442): 1343–60. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(04)17192-4. PMID 15474138.
  2. Lanzkron S, Carroll CP, Haywood C (October 2010). "The burden of emergency department use for sickle-cell disease: an analysis of the national emergency department sample database". Am. J. Hematol. 85 (10): 797–9. doi:10.1002/ajh.21807. PMC 3431910. PMID 20730795.
  3. Campos J, Lobo C, Queiroz AM, do Nascimento EM, Lima CB, Cardoso G, Ballas SK (July 2014). "Treatment of the acute sickle cell vaso-occlusive crisis in the Emergency Department: a Brazilian method of switching from intravenous to oral morphine". Eur. J. Haematol. 93 (1): 34–40. doi:10.1111/ejh.12293. PMID 24571671.
  4. Stirnemann J, Letellier E, Aras N, Borne M, Brinquin L, Fain O (June 2012). "Hyperbaric oxygen therapy for vaso-occlusive crises in nine patients with sickle-cell disease". Diving Hyperb Med. 42 (2): 82–4. PMID 22828815. Retrieved 2014-07-06.
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