Development of a severity classification system for sickle cell disease

Academic Article


  • Purpose: There is no well-accepted classification system of overall sickle cell disease (SCD) severity. We sought to develop a system that could be tested as a clinical outcome predictor. Patients and Methods: Using validated methodology (RAND/UCLA modified Delphi panel), 10 multi-disciplinary expert clinicians collaboratively developed 180 simplified patient histories and rated each on multiple axes (estimated clinician follow-up frequency, risk of complications or death, quality of life, overall disease severity). Using ratings on overall disease severity, we developed a 3-level severity classification system ranging from Class I (least severe) to Class III (most severe). Results: The system defines patients as Class I who are 8-40 years with no end organ damage, no chronic pain, and <4 unscheduled acute care visits due to vaso-occlusive crises (VOC) in the last year. Patients <8 or >40 years with no end organ damage, no chronic pain, and <2 unscheduled acute care visits are also considered Class I. Patients any age with >5 unscheduled acute care visits and/or with severe damage to bone, retina, heart, lung, kidney, or brain are classified as Class III (except patients >25 years with severe retinopathy, no chronic pain, and 0-1 unscheduled acute care visits, who are considered Class II). Patients not meeting these Class I or III definitions are classified as Class II. Conclusion: This system consolidates patient characteristics into homogenous groups with respect to disease state to support clinical decision-making. The system is consistent with existing literature that increased unscheduled acute care visits and organ damage translate into clinically significant patient morbidity. Studies to further validate this system are planned.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Shah N; Beenhouwer D; Broder MS; Bronte-Hall L; De Castro LM; Gibbs SN; Gordeuk VR; Kanter J; Klings ES; Lipato T
  • Start Page

  • 625
  • End Page

  • 633
  • Volume

  • 12