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A vaso-occlusive crisis is a common painful complication of sickle cell anemia in adolescents and adults. It is a form of sickle cell crisis. Sickle cell anemia - most common in those of African, Hispanic, and Mediterranean origin - leads to sickle cell crisis when the circulation of blood vessels is obstructed by sickled red blood cells, causing ischemic injuries. The most common complaint is of pain, and recurrent episodes may cause irreversible organ damage. One of the most severe forms is the acute chest syndrome which occurs as a result of infarction of the lung parenchyma. This can rapidly result in death. Other types of vaso-occlusive crisis in sickle cell anemia include dactylitis, priapism, abdominal pain, and jaundice.
The management of an acute event of vaso-occlusive crisis is the use of potent analgesics (opioids), rehydration with normal saline or Ringer's lactate, treatment of malaria (whether symptomatic or not) using artemisinin combination therapy, and the use of oxygen via face mask, especially for acute chest syndrome. Hyperbaric oxygen has also been shown to be a useful adjunct in pain reduction. Antibiotics may be utilized because patients usually have occult infection due to a "functional asplenia".
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- Lanzkron S, Carroll CP, Haywood C (October 2010). "The burden of emergency department use for sickle-cell disease: an analysis of the national emergency department sample database". Am. J. Hematol. 85 (10): 797–9. doi:10.1002/ajh.21807. PMC 3431910. PMID 20730795. Retrieved 2014-07-06.
- Campos J, Lobo C, Queiroz AM, do Nascimento EM, Lima CB, Cardoso G, Ballas SK (July 2014). "Treatment of the acute sickle cell vaso-occlusive crisis in the Emergency Department: a Brazilian method of switching from intravenous to oral morphine". Eur. J. Haematol. 93 (1): 34–40. doi:10.1111/ejh.12293. PMID 24571671. Retrieved 2014-07-06.
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