Non-crisis related pain occurs in adult patients with sickle cell disease despite chronic red blood cell exchange transfusion therapy

Susanna A. Curtis, Balbuena Merle Raisa, John D. Roberts, Jeanne E. Hendrickson, Joanna Starrels, Devine Lesley, De Veaux Michelle, Zelterman Daniel, Amanda M. Brandow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Chronic red blood cell transfusions reduce acute care utilization for sickle cell disease (SCD) pain. However, little is known about whether chronic transfusions treat or prevent the development of non-crisis pain. We investigated patient-report of pain in adults with SCD receiving chronic exchange transfusions (CET) compared to adults not on CET with similar disease characteristics. Study Method and Design: Eleven participants receiving chronic exchange transfusion (CET) for at least one year were compared to 33 participants not receiving CET. Participants completed validated patient-reported outcomes regarding pain impact and quality of life at regularly scheduled visits or before CET. One year of health care utilization and opioid prescriptions were examined. Results: After 1:1 propensity matching was performed for age, genotype, WBC and neutrophil counts, patients on CET had lower Pain Impact scores (-5.1, p = 0.03) and higher Neuropathic (7.4, p < 0.001) and Nociceptive Pain Quality (3.7, p < 0.001) scores, all indicating worse pain. However, CET was associated with a reduction in annual all cause admissions (-3.1, p < 0.001), length of stay (-2.1 days, p < 0.001) and ED visits (-2.7, p < 0.001). CET was not associated with differences in opioids dispensed. Conclusions: After adjusting for disease characteristics, CET was associated with worse pain impact and neuropathic and nociceptive pain quality, lower health care utilization and with similar levels of opioids dispensed. This data suggest that CET may reduce hospitalizations for acute pain but may not adequately treat nociceptive or neuropathic pain in SCD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103304
JournalTransfusion and Apheresis Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • chronic pain
  • exchange transfusion
  • opioid use
  • pain crisis
  • sickle cell disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


Dive into the research topics of 'Non-crisis related pain occurs in adult patients with sickle cell disease despite chronic red blood cell exchange transfusion therapy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this