Skip to Content

Sickle Cell Disease: Splenic Sequestration

Topic Overview

What is splenic sequestration?

Splenic sequestration is a problem with the spleen that can happen in people who have sickle cell disease.

Splenic sequestration happens when a lot of sickled red blood cells become trapped in the spleen. The spleen can enlarge, get damaged, and not work as it should. When the spleen doesn't work well, a person is more likely to have serious, life-threatening infections with certain types of bacteria.

If splenic sequestration happens suddenly, it can be a life-threatening emergency.

Who is affected by it?

This condition is more common in infants and young children who have sickle cell disease. It may follow a respiratory infection.

In older children and adults, the spleen often does not work because of years of damage from sickled cells.

What are the symptoms?

Splenic sequestration causes sudden and severe anemia, with symptoms of sudden weakness, pale lips, rapid breathing, excessive thirst, belly pain, and rapid heartbeat.

If you have a baby or young child who has sickle cell disease, you will check your child's spleen to see if it's larger than normal. Your child's doctor can show you how to check for it. A suddenly enlarged spleen requires emergency medical care.

Related Information

References

Other Works Consulted

  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health (2002). The Management of Sickle Cell Disease (NIH Publication No. 02-2117). Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/prof/blood/sickle/.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Martin Steinberg, MD - Hematology
Current as of March 12, 2014

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Section Links

Health Library