Hepatobiliary Complications of Sickle Cell Disease among Children Admitted to Al Wahda Teaching Hospital, Aden, Yemen

Hana A. Qhalib, Gamal H. Zain


Objectives: This study aimed to describe the pattern of hepatobiliary complications among patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) and to assess their correlation with age, gender and other risk factors. Methods: This cross-sectional study assessed 106 patients with SCD who were admitted to Al Wahda Teaching Hospital in Aden, Yemen, between January and June 2009. A full history, thorough examination, essential laboratory investigations (including a complete blood count, liver function test and viral markers test) and an abdominal ultrasound were performed on all patients. The clinicopathological characteristics of the hepatobiliary complications were analysed for their correlation to different risk factors such as age and gender. Results: It was found that 46.2% of the patients with SCD had hepatobiliary complications. Of these, 36.7% had viral hepatitis, 26.0% had cholecystitis and 20% had gallstones. A total of 60.4% of the affected patients were male. The mean levels of alanine aminotransferase (59.4 and 56.0 U/L) and aspartate transaminase (40.1 and 38.3 U/L) were significantly elevated in patients with viral hepatitis and cholecystitis, respectively. Hepatitis B virus surface antigen showed higher positivity (10.4%) than anti-hepatitis A and anti-hepatitis C antibodies. Hepatobiliary complications increased significantly with age and were notably higher among those who were often admitted to hospital and/or underwent frequent blood transfusions. Conclusion: This study suggests that hepatobiliary complications are common among SCD patients and the likelihood of developing such complications increases as patients age. Thus, regular clinical follow-ups, abdominal ultrasound studies and periodic liver function tests, as well as serological tests for viral hepatitis, are strongly recommended. These can help in the early detection of these complications and allow opportunities for their management and prevention.


Sickle Cell Disease; Digestive System; Biliary Tract; Children; Yemen.

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Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, Sultan Qaboos University, PO Box 35, Postal Code 123, Al-Khod, Muscat, Oman

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