Splenic sequestration happens when a lot of sickled red
blood cells become trapped in the
spleen. The spleen can enlarge, get damaged, and not work as it should. When
the spleen doesn't work well, a person is more likely to have serious,
life-threatening infections with certain types of bacteria.
If splenic sequestration happens suddenly, it can be a life-threatening emergency.
Who is affected by it?
This condition is more common in infants and young children who have sickle cell disease. It may follow a respiratory infection.
In older children
and adults, the spleen often does not work because of years of damage from sickled
What are the symptoms?
Splenic sequestration causes sudden and severe
anemia, with symptoms of sudden weakness, pale lips,
rapid breathing, excessive thirst, belly pain, and rapid heartbeat.
If you have a baby or young child who has sickle cell disease, you will check your child's spleen to see if it's larger than normal. Your child's doctor can show you how to check for it. A suddenly enlarged spleen requires emergency medical
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National
Institutes of Health (2002). The Management of Sickle Cell Disease (NIH Publication No. 02-2117). Available online:
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.