Treatment of sickle cell crisis includes:
-Opioid pain medications (for example, morphine)
-Anti-inflammatory medications (for example, ibuprofen)
-Antibiotics for infection
-Intravenous or oral fluids
Transfusions of red blood cells are given for severe anemia, to prevent strokes, and before surgery. Sometimes an exchange transfusion is performed with a special machine that removes the abnormal sickle red blood cells and replaces them with normal red blood cells.
>>Hydroxyurea is the only FDA-approved medication that prevents painful episodes in sickle cell disease. Studies of patients with sickle cell disease show that the regular use of hydroxyurea decreases the frequency and severity of sickle cell crises and reduces the number of blood transfusions and hospitalizations.
Stem cell transplant is the only curative treatment for sickle cell disease. Stem cell transplant has a 5%-10% risk of death, but patients with successful transplants were completely cured of sickle cell disease, with no further episodes of pain.
Stem cell transplant is performed in young patients with severe sickle cell disease who have a matched sibling donor. Stem cell transplant using umbilical cord blood from a related donor has also been curative in a small number of patients.
Scientists are making progress in the development of new medications that prevent sickling of red blood cells and improve blood flow and delivery of oxygen to the body. Some of these new treatments are already being tested in patients with sickle cell disease.