Sickle Cell Disease Association of America
Philadelphia/Delaware Valley Chapter
5070 Parkside Avenue - Suite 1404
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19131
215-471-8686 tel  215-471-7441 fax

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What conditions promote the sickling (distortion) of the red blood cells in
sickle cell anemia?

Sickling of the red blood cells in patients with sickle cell anemia results in cells of abnormal shape and diminished flexibility. The sickling is promoted by conditions that are associated with low oxygen levels, increased acidity, or low volume (dehydration) of the blood. These conditions can occur as a result of injury to the body's tissues, dehydration, or anesthesia.

Certain organs are predisposed to lower oxygen levels or acidity, such as when blood moves slowly through the spleen, liver, or kidney. Also, organs with particularly high metabolism rates (such as the brain, muscles, and the placenta in a pregnant woman with sickle cell anemia) promote sickling by extracting more oxygen from the blood. These conditions make the organs susceptible to injury from sickle cell anemia