Background: The course of hereditary spherocytosis (HS) may be subject to hemolytic episodes, sometimes requiring blood transfusion. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a short course of steroid therapy in elevating hemoglobin levels during hemolytic crisis. Procedure: The files of all patients followed for HS from 1968 to 2009 at our hospital were reviewed. Outcome of hemolytic crises was compared between steroid-treated and untreated patients; patients given packed red blood cell transfusion(s) or erythropoietin treatment were excluded. A good outcome was defined as an increase of at least 20% in hemoglobin level from the nadir within 1 week. Results: Of the 118 patients with HS who attended our hospital during the study period, 20 were treated with steroids and 9 received no treatment. Mean nadir hemoglobin level in both groups was 6.9g/dl. The study group had a total of 50 steroid-treated hemolytic crises of which 37 (74%) responded favorably to treatment. Treatment failure was significantly associated with a low dose (<1mg/kg/day) or short duration (<1 week) of treatment. The nine untreated patients had 16 hemolytic crises, of which 25% had a good outcome. Steroid therapy was significantly more effective than no therapy in increasing hemoglobin level (P=0.015) in these hemolytic crises. Conclusion: Steroid therapy may be effective in augmenting hemoglobin levels during hemolytic crises in patients with moderate HS and eventually will result in a reduced need for RBC transfusion.
- Hereditary spherocytosis