Acute Hemolytic Anemia Caused by Loxoscelism Treated With Plasmapheresis: A Case Report

Stephanie Harry, Emily Brugioni, Sheshadri Madhusudhana


The bite of a brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is usually associated with skin necrosis; however, it can lead to more significant morbidity including acute hemolytic anemia, rhabdomyolysis, disseminated intravascular coagulopathy and death. Here we highlight a case using plasmapheresis as treatment for acute hemolytic anemia caused by the bite of a brown recluse spider. A 49-year-old male presented to the emergency room 5 days after suffering a spider bite due to worsening symptoms. He had worsening pain at the site of the bite, diffuse body myalgias, darkening of his urine, chills, and shortness of breath. Hematology was consulted to assist in the management of hemolytic anemia refractory to multiple blood transfusions, worsening acute kidney failure requiring hemodialysis, and concern for impending death. After a literature review suggesting plasmapheresis may be beneficial in this scenario, the case was discussed with the local blood bank, and plasmapheresis was initiated. The patient underwent plasmapheresis with albumin for 2 days and the patient’s hemoglobin improved and stabilized. Therapy of loxoscelism is directed at limiting the dermatonecrosis at the site of the envenomation and in cases of systemic illness supportive care is recommended. Therapeutic plasma exchange has been shown efficacious in treating snake envenomation, but there are limited data detailing its use for brown recluse spider envenomation. Here we present a case to highlight the benefit of plasmapheresis in a patient with acute hemolytic anemia secondary to a brown recluse spider bite.

J Med Cases. 2022;13(5):219-224


Loxoscelism; Hemolysis; Plasma exchange; Brown recluse spider

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