Sickle cell disease in the ICU

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Purpose of review

The review focuses on severe acute vaso-occlusive manifestations of sickle cell disease leading adult patients to the ICU.

Recent findings

Careful consideration should be paid to look for pulmonary vascular dysfunction and acute kidney injury, because of their prognostic role during acute vaso-occlusive manifestations. Alloimmunization and delayed haemolytic transfusion reactions are emerging complications that should be thought to be diagnosed, as they may imply a conservative management. The life-threatening complication raises the question about the indications of blood transfusion therapy for acute sickle cell disease complications, no randomized controlled trials being available to assess the role of blood transfusion in the acute setting.


Acute vaso-occlusive episodes are characterized by an unpredictable course that needs for vigilance for everyone, and justifies ICU or intermediate care unit admission to allow close monitoring, and supportive treatment in a timely fashion.

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