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.
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
- 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.
Tests that may be done include:
- Blood chemistry panel
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Coombs test
- Hemoglobin -- blood
- Hemoglobin -- urine
- Kidney or abdominal CT scan
- Kidney or abdominal ultrasound
Treatment depends on the cause of hemolysis.
Gallagher PG. Hemolytic anemias: red blood cell membrane and metabolic defects. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 161.
Little M. Haematology emergencies. In: Cameron P, Jelinek G, Kelly AM, Brown A, Little M, eds. Textbook of Adult Emergency Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2015:chap 13.
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.