I struggled to find PEM resources for my CT3 year, despite the variety of excellent resources out there. I hope this website will help point you in the right direction. I'm not a PEM expert, but am following the guidance CEM have issued (in the form of a syllabus) to put together this page. This page is not endorsed by CEM, and any mistakes are mine.

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Friday, 12 June 2015

Sickle Cell

Sickle cell disease is really common where I work and I've seen lots of different presentations. Our management seems a little different, and more rational, than some of the guidelines I've found on the internet - it was an interesting literature search.

Once again, the Calgary guide explains this better than I ever could.

The Calgary Guide
Glu --> Val substitution of the sixth amino acid of the beta-globin chain
Get HbS instead

Heterozygous: 45% HbS, 52% HbA, 2% HbA2, 1% HbF
  Sickle trait - increased renal cancer but no "disease"
Homozygous: 90% HbS, 8% HbF, 2%HbA2

HbS is less soluble so might precipitate. This means they become sickle shaped. Can be precipitated by dehydration, hypoxemia or acidosis.

Clinical Signs
Have you looked at the Calgary guide? It is a very under-rated resource.

A painful crisis is the most common presentation to the ED for sickle cell.  Vaso-occlusion causes many problems - priapism, splenic sequestration, dactylitis, splenic infarction, stroke, renal failure, necrosis of the femoral head, blockage of the lung vessels and painful crises. 

Painful crises are more common in the limbs and backs. The pain is normally throbbing, sharp or gnawing. 

- Splenic infarction means RBC not removed by the spleen leading to Howell-Jolly bodies on blood smear. 
- Aplastic crisis causes anaemia, pallor, tachycardia and a low reticulocyte count. 

- Extravascular haemolysis causes a normocytic anaemia. As the red blood cells breakdown, there can be jaundice, and increase in gallstone formation. There can be increased marrow production to compensate for haemolysis. 

Nocturnal Enuresis
Pulmonary Hypertension
Develops in 15-35% of children with SCD.

Acute Chest Syndrome
This is most common in children, especially at around age three. It presents with fever, chest pain, difficulty in breathing and shadows on CXR. 

Need to treat the pneumonia / infection and have urgent transfusion. Be careful as overhydration may lead to oedema and pulmonary vascular congestion. 

Splenic Sequestration
This is a major cause of mortality, especially in those less than five years old. Major causes a rapid drop of Hb, pallor, LUQ pain, splenomegaly. Minor is more gradual onset. 

Neurological Disease
Strokes are common - up to 25% of patients. They need urgent imaging, and urgent exchange transfusion.

This is often the presenting feature in children, and normally resolves in a few days. 

If there is any eye trauma, look carefully for a hyphema - it may not be obvious. Refer anyone who has protrusion of the eye, changes in visual acuity or loss of vision. 
Patients with sickle are risk of hyphema triggering acute narrow angle closure glaucoma. 

Two group and saves if transfusion likely - patients with sickle cell likely to have abnormal antigens. 
D-dimers are unhelpful as levels are usually elevated. 

CXR, ABG, LFTs (jaundice or abdo pain), reticulocytes, blood and urine cultures (if febrile), USS abdo, parvovirus B19 serology (Hb drop, low reticulocytes Transient red cell aplasia (TRCA) is caused by infection with parvovirus B19, which causes red cell production to halt for 3-7 days), brain imaging, limb x-rays, CRP. 

Consider serology for atypical respiratory organisms and urine for pneumococcal and legionella antigen. 
Look for mycoplasma infection - red cell agglutination on a stained blood film and cold agglutinins in serum.

Look for parvovirus B19 - erythema infectiosum or slapped cheeks, gloves and socks syndrome (painful erythema of hands and feet), arthropathy, aplastic crisis.

Oxygen - only if sats are low. 
Antibiotics - really consider antibiotics if CRP>25 - but not amoxicillin as it is so similar to pen v - consider co-amox or tax. Stop prophylactic antibiotics if starting regular treatment. Prophylactic penicillin should be used in children until five years old, unless they had a splenectomy or invasive pneumococcal infection. 

Transfusion - consider. If Jehovah's witness need transfusion, go ahead as per normal,  then contact legal department who arrange out of court hearing and you can normally transfuse them within an hour! And most parents are happy because they've done their bit. 

Hydroxycarbamide  (also known as hydroxyurea) - stop if febrile or low platelets as can cause cardiomyopathy and neutropenia. 
Hydroxyurea - more than three crisis in twelve years, or sickle cell-associated pain, or any infants older than nine months. 
Folic acid - 5mg OD
Hydrozine - 25mg BD PO for itching
Hydration - oral if tolerated

NICE Guidelines
- Treat as a medical emergency
- Analgesia within 30min
- Obs
- Offer opioid bolus for severe and moderate pain
- Do NOT give pethidine

- Offer patients PCA, and treat opiate side effects




  1. Am Alex from USA,
    There is a cure for Sickle Cell Disease,
    My Son once had sickle cell Disease he was always sick every month, and his growth was also very slow. he was very intelligent in school and all his teachers loves him for that. when ever he is sick, I feel the whole world is falling on me.
    I got the permanent cure from Dr Alegbe, for my son. He took the medication for good one month, and from then still now he does not get any fever again. and his body system is strong. he does not get sick easily. Dr Steve has really made me happy in life again. and I promise to tell the whole world about him. I never believed my Son can live long to this extent, but now his is living fine and healthy like the other kids. Now I believed Sickle cell Disease can be cured. any one with such issues can contact the Doctor on dralegbe@gmail.com or Whats-app him on +1(518)-675-6082


    I write to you with great joy in my heart how Dr Alegbe John turned my life around. I was born a sickle cell patient through the gene- type of my parents and became a carrier which led to immense crises all through my growing up years. This particular ailment was called rheumatism, the pain of the bone which I was told was caused by difficult circulation of blood in the vein axis.

    Growing up was like hell because apart from the pain and the fear of it, I also lived in bondage for years before Dr Alegbe intervention.

    I was restricted from doing what my mates could do, there was a lot of don’t touch, don’t eat, don’t go, don’t wear by the doctor and I lived all through this period on drugs. I was made to know that without this pill, my life will would finally come to an end. It was total bondage.

    During this period of pain, I would cry, shout, throw myself to the ground, destroy things I could find around me just because of restlessness the pain caused. My Dad got the contact of Dr Alegbe from the internet and he emailed him told him about me and made purchase from his product. I too the medication for one month and he always call to know how am feeling, that was how i was cured completely. any one can reach him On his gmail address at dralegbe@gmail.com

    I stopped taking my drugs because Dr Alegbe John has made me completely cured, I no longer feel pain neither do I remember how it feels.

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