Hemolytic crisisHemolysis - acute
Hemolytic crisis occurs when large numbers of red blood cells are destroyed over a short time. The loss of red blood cells occurs much faster than the body can produce new red blood cells.
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 .
Acute means sudden or severe. Acute symptoms appear, change, or worsen rapidly. It is the opposite of chronic.
Anemia is a condition in which the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells provide oxygen to body tissues. Different type...
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
An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body's immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake. There are more than 80 types of aut...
- Certain infections
- Defects in the hemoglobin molecules inside red blood cells
- Defects of the proteins that make up the internal framework of red blood cells
- Side effects of certain medicines
- Reactions to blood transfusions
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you have:
- Symptoms of anemia, including pale skin or fatigue, especially if these symptoms get worse
- Urine that is red, red-brown, or brown (tea-colored)
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 provider will perform a physical examination and ask about your medical history and symptoms. The physical exam may show swelling of the spleen ( splenomegaly ).
During a physical examination, a health care provider studies your body to determine if you do or do not have a physical problem. A physical examinat...
Splenomegaly is a larger-than-normal spleen. The spleen is an organ in the upper left part of the belly.
Tests that may be done include:
A comprehensive metabolic panel is a group of blood tests. They provide an overall picture of your body's chemical balance and metabolism. Metaboli...
Complete blood count (
A complete blood count (CBC) test measures the following:The number of red blood cells (RBC count)The number of white blood cells (WBC count)The tota...
The Coombs test looks for antibodies that may stick to your red blood cells and cause red blood cells to die too early.
An RBC count is a blood test that measures how many red blood cells (RBCs) you have. RBCs contain hemoglobin, which carries oxygen. How much oxygen ...
Hemoglobin -- blood
Hemoglobin -- blood
Serum free hemoglobin is a blood test that measures the level of free hemoglobin in the liquid part of the blood (the serum). Free hemoglobin is the...
Hemoglobin -- urine
Hemoglobin -- urine
Hemoglobinuria test is a urine test that checks for hemoglobin in the urine.
abdominal CT scan
Abdominal CT scan
An abdominal CT scan is an imaging method. This test uses x-rays to create cross-sectional pictures of the belly area. CT stands for computed tomog...
Abdominal ultrasound is a type of imaging test. It is used to look at organs in the abdomen, including the liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, and...
Treatment depends on the cause of hemolysis.
Ezenkwele UA. Emergency management of red blood cell disorders. In: Adams JG, ed. Emergency Medicine: Clinical Essentials . 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:chap 204.
Gallagher PG. Hemolytic anemias: red blood cell membrane and metabolic defects. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine . 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 161.
Review Date: 2/12/2016
Reviewed By: 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.