Acute chest syndrome

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Acute chest syndrome
Specialty pulmonology

The acute chest syndrome is a vaso-occlusive crisis of the pulmonary vasculature commonly seen in people with sickle cell anemia. This condition commonly manifests with a new opacification of the lung(s) on a chest x-ray.[1]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

The crisis is a common complication in sickle-cell patients and can be associated with one or more symptoms including fever, cough, excruciating pain, sputum production, shortness of breath, or low oxygen levels.[2]


Acute chest syndrome is often precipitated by a lung infection, and the resulting inflammation and loss of oxygen saturation leads to further sickling of red cells, thus exacerbating pulmonary and systemic hypoxemia, sickling, and vaso-occlusion.



Hydroxyurea is a medication that can help to prevent acute chest syndrome. It may cause a low white blood cell count, which can predispose the person to some types of infection.[3]


Broad spectrum antibiotics to cover common infections such as Streptococcus pneumoniae and mycoplasma, pain control, and blood transfusion. Acute chest syndrome is an indication for exchange transfusion.

Bronchodilators may be useful but have not been well studied.[4]


It may result in death,[5] and it is one of the most common causes of death for people with sickle cell anemia.[6]


  1. ^ Betty Pace (2007). Renaissance of Sickle Cell Disease Research in the Genome Era. Imperial College Press. pp. 81–. ISBN 978-1-86094-645-5. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  2. ^ Johnson, CS (1995). "Sickle-Cell Disease: The Acute Chest Syndrome". 
  3. ^ Sickle cell disease (SCD). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
  4. ^ Knight-Madden, JM; Hambleton, IR (Aug 2, 2014). "Inhaled bronchodilators for acute chest syndrome in people with sickle cell disease". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 8: CD003733. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003733.pub3. PMID 25086371. 
  5. ^ "acute chest syndrome" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  6. ^ Kumar, Abbas, Fausto. Robbins and Cotran: The Pathologic Basis of Disease, Page 631

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