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reference materials

Sickle cell disease: when to transfuse

key information

source: Medscape

year: 2018

authors: Mary Hulihan


Hello. I am Dr Mary Hulihan, a health scientist in the Division of Blood Disorders at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Today I would like to talk about the indications for blood transfusion in patients with sickle cell disease, the complications associated with these transfusions, and how you can help reduce the risk for these complications in your patients.

For many patients with sickle cell disease, red blood cell transfusions are an important part of medical care, reducing both mortality and morbidity. Both the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the British Society for Haematology have published documents that underscore the many unique aspects of care that must be taken into account when transfusing this patient population.

Although transfusions can be highly beneficial in treating sickle cell disease–related issues, they are not without risks. There are three scenarios when blood transfusions should be considered for patients with sickle cell disease. First, certain acute illnesses, such as acute chest syndrome or severe exacerbation of anemia with splenic or hepatic sequestration, may call for a simple blood transfusion.

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