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.
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:
Call your health care provider if you have:
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).
Tests that may be done include:
Treatment depends on the cause of hemolysis.
Reviewed By: Richard LoCicero, MD, private practice specializing in hematology and medical oncology, Longstreet Cancer Center, Gainesville, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.