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
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
- Autoimmune diseases
- 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
- Medication side effects
- Reactions to blood transfusions
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your doctor or nurse 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 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.
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.