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Sickle Cell Anaemia

Dr. Narender Kumar Thota, Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Sickle Cell Anaemia 

What is Sickle cell anaemia?  

"Sickle cell disorders"  is a condition where the shape of the red cell changes to sickle shape due to a change in Hemoglobin S gene ( beta         globin gene)

"Sickle cell disease (SCD)" is an umbrella term that includes all variety of sikcel cell disease with changes in beta globin chain 

What are the types of sickle cell Anemia? 

How Sickle cell trait is diagnosed 

HbA >50 percent 

HbS > 35 to 45 percent, and 

HbF <2 percent.

HbS <35 percent suggests the presence of alpha thalassemia.

•Sickle cell anemia – HbSS

HbA - 0 percent, 

HbF <2 percent, 

Normal amounts of HbA2, and the remainder HbS.

•Hemoglobin SC disease – HbS and HbC are both present.

•Sickle cell-beta+-thalassemia –

HbA - 5 to 30 percent, 

HbA2- increased, 

With the remainder HbS. 

•Sickle cell-beta0-thalassemia – 

HbA - 0 percent, 

Along with variable amounts of HbF, 

Increased HbA2, 

With the remainder HbS. 

How do you diagnose 

Diagnosis is done with help of 

1. clinical history 

2. complete blood picture

3. liver function test

4. ultrasonography of abdomen

5. Hb electrophoresis

How the patient present to a doctor 

Patients present to the doctor with acute and chronic complications 

Acute complications — these are the common and major issue for patients 

  • Patient will have high grade fevers – because of Infections
  • Patient RBC will break down based on severity of sickle cell disease - Severe anaemia
  • Vaso-occlusive phenomena – Due to abnormal shape of RBC, the cells block the blood vessels 
  • which can result is severe pain in bones, chest, etc 
  • can result in brain Stroke  
  • can result in severe - chest pain, shortness of breath 
  • can result in renal failure 
  • can result in severe bone pain in fingers 
  • can result in heart attack - Myocardial infarction – heart failure 
  • can result in pregnancy complications 
  • can result in severe painful condition of penis
  • can result in lower limbs swelling (DVT), which may lead to pulmonary thromboembolism (PTE)

Chronic complications — on long term, SCD can effect all major organs, SCD can 

cause chronic severe Pain

result in chronic Anemia because of continuous haemolysis

result in paralysis of limbs or fits - Neurologic deficits or seizure disorder

result in pulmonary hypertension - Pulmonary complications 

result in chronic renal failure and hypertension

result in Osteoporosis and complications of bone infarction

result in heart failure 

result in liver failure due iron overload or drug toxicity 

Result in gall stones pain 

result in Delayed puberty and reduced growth

result in chronic leg ulcers 

result in eye complications - Proliferative retinopathy

Common triggers for pain 

1. cold temperature, 

2. dehydration, 

3. overexertion, 

4. hormonal changes such as onset of menses, and 

5. respiratory exposures (tobacco smoke, wind, air pollution, asthma exacerbation)

The major options for reducing or minimizing vaso-occlusive pain include the following:


Preferred initial therapy for all children and adults with HbSS or HbS-beta0-thalassemia.

Who cannot take the medication?

Women who are pregnant or individuals who are attempting conception (males or females)

What precautions should be taken with hydroxyurea?

Watch for drop in blood counts

What has to be done if patient develops painful episodes on hydroxyurea?

Blood Transfusions – Transfusions are not used routinely to prevent pain. However, selected individuals with frequent acute pain episodes despite disease-modifying therapy such as hydroxyurea, chronic pain, or both, may benefit from a six-month period of regular blood transfusion therapy to keep the haemoglobin S concentration less than 50 percent or even 30 percent

Newer Medications 

L-glutamine (pharmaceutical grade)

Who should take the medication? 

Patient not responding to hydroxyurea, it can be combine with hydroxyurea or can be taken separately 


Who can take the medication?

is an option for individuals age ≥12 years who continue to have vaso-occlusive pain episodes despite appropriately dosed hydroxyurea or who cannot tolerate hydroxyurea for any reason


Who can take the medication?

For individuals ≥16 years with SCD who have acute vaso-occlusive pain episodes unresponsive to hydroxyurea, L-glutamine, or both

Can we cure SCD permanently? 


Doing bone marrow transplants at appropriate age and fitness levels, we can cure SCD 

Dr. T. Narender Kumar

Consultant Medical & Hemato Oncologist and BMT Physician

KIMS Hospitals, Secunderabad.



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