Hemolytic crisis is the rapid destruction of large numbers of red blood cells (hemolysis
). The destruction occurs much faster than the body can produce new red blood cells.
Hemolysis - acute
During a hemolytic crisis, the body cannot make enough red blood cells to replace those that are destroyed. This causes acute
and often severe anemia
The part of red blood cells that carries oxygen (hemoglobin
) is released into the bloodstream. This can lead to kidney damage.
Causes of hemolysis include:
A lack of certain proteins inside red blood cells
Defects in the hemoglobin molecules inside red blood cells
Defects of the proteins that make up the internal framework of red blood cells
Medication side effects
Reactions to blood transfusions
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your doctor or nurse if you have:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit
Emergency treatment may be necessary. This may include a hospital stay, oxygen, blood transfusions, and other treatments.
When your condition is stable, your doctor or nurse will perform a physical examination
and ask about your medical history and symptoms. The physical exam may occasionally show swelling of the spleen (splenomegaly
Tests that may be done include:
Schwartz RS. Autoimmune and intravascular hemolytic anemias In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 163.
Gallagher PG. Hemolytic anemias: red cell membrane and metabolic defects In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 164.
Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.