CT imaging of splenic sequestration in sickle cell disease
Anemia, Sickle Cell
Tomography, X-Ray Computed
Pooling of blood in the spleen is a frequent occurrence in children with sickle cell diseases, particularly in the first few years of life, resulting in what is termed "splenic sequestration crisis." The spectrum of severity in this syndrome is wide, ranging from mild splenomegaly to massive enlargement, circulatory collapse, and even death. The diagnosis is usually clinical, based on the enlargement of the spleen with a drop in hemoglobin level by > 2 g/dl, and it is rare that imaging studies are ordered. However, in the patient who presents to the emergency department with non-specific findings of an acute abdomen, it is important to recognize the appearance of sequestration on imaging studies. We studied seven patients utilizing contrast-enhanced CT scans and found two distinct patterns--multiple, peripheral, non-enhancing low-density areas or large, diffuse areas of low density in the majority of the splenic tissue. Although radiological imaging is not always necessary to diagnose splenic sequestration, in those situations where this diagnosis is not immediately obvious, it makes an important clarifying contribution.