Steroid therapy may be effective in augmenting hemoglobin levels during hemolytic crises in children with hereditary spherocytosis

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2011 Aug;57(2):303-5. doi: 10.1002/pbc.22844. Epub 2011 Apr 7.


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 6.9 g/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 (<1 mg/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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion
  • Erythropoietin / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Hemoglobins / drug effects*
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Osmotic Fragility / drug effects
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spherocytosis, Hereditary / drug therapy*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Hemoglobins
  • Erythropoietin
  • Prednisone