Spur cell anemia in alcoholic cirrhosis: cure by orthotopic liver transplantation and recurrence after liver graft failure

Int Surg. Oct-Dec 2002;87(4):201-4.


Spur cell anemia is an acquired form of hemolytic anemia caused by a structural abnormality of red cell membranes that results in spiculated erythrocytes. These peculiarly shaped red blood cells, called acanthocytes, have a shortened survival and undergo splenic sequestration and destruction. Spur cell anemia has been known to occur in several conditions, including chronic liver disease, and more specifically in alcoholic cirrhosis. Treatment of this disorder has been disappointing and usually indicates end-stage liver disease. Liver transplantation has been reported as the most effective treatment. We herein present a case of severe spur cell hemolytic anemia that successfully reverted after orthotopic liver transplantation and recurred secondary to resumption of alcohol intake and consequent liver graft failure. This case conclusively demonstrates the association among alcoholic cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, and spur cell hemolytic anemia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Anemia, Hemolytic / etiology*
  • Anemia, Hemolytic / pathology
  • Anemia, Hemolytic / surgery*
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Hematocrit
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / complications*
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / surgery
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Recurrence