Abdominal Manifestations of Sickle Cell Disease

Curr Probl Diagn Radiol. 2021 Mar-Apr;50(2):241-251. doi: 10.1067/j.cpradiol.2020.05.012. Epub 2020 Jun 1.


Sickle cell disease is a debilitating hematologic process that affects the entire body. Disease manifestations in the abdomen most commonly result from vaso-occlusion, hemolysis, or infection due to functional asplenia. Organ specific manifestations include those involving the liver (eg, hepatopathy, iron deposition), gallbladder (eg, stone formation), spleen (eg, infarction, abscess formation, sequestration), kidneys (eg, papillary necrosis, infarction), pancreas (eg, pancreatitis), gastrointestinal tract (eg, infarction), reproductive organs (eg, priapism, testicular atrophy), bone (eg, marrow changes, avascular necrosis), vasculature (eg, vasculopathy), and lung bases (eg, acute chest syndrome, infarction). Imaging provides an important clinical tool for evaluation of acute and chronic disease manifestations and complications. In summary, there are multifold abdominal manifestations of sickle cell disease. Recognition of these sequela helps guide management and improves outcomes. The purpose of this article is to review abdominal manifestations of sickle cell disease and discuss common and rare complications of the disease within the abdomen.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / complications
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell* / diagnostic imaging
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Priapism*
  • Vascular Diseases*