Complications of SCD: Splenic Sequestration

At a glance

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a group of inherited blood disorders associated with severe pain and complications that can affect the entire body. This page provides information on SCD and splenic sequestration.

A woman holding the left side of her stomach.


Splenic sequestration occurs when sickled red blood cells get trapped in the spleen and block blood flow, causing it to suddenly get bigger, fill with blood, and become swollen and painful. The spleen is an organ in the upper left part of the abdomen (belly) that helps the body fight an infection.

A splenic sequestration can affect anyone with SCD, but it typically affects children. Parents of a child with SCD can learn how to feel and measure the size of their child’s spleen and seek medical attention if the spleen is enlarged.


The most common symptom is pain on the left side of the abdomen (belly) and can include:

  • Sudden weakness
  • Pale lips
  • Fast breathing
  • Fast heartbeat