Silent cerebral infarcts occur despite regular blood transfusion therapy after first strokes in children with sickle cell disease

Hulbert, M. L.; McKinstry, R. C.; Lacey, J. L.; Moran, C. J.; Panepinto, J. A.; Thompson, A. A.; Sarnaik, S. A.; Woods, G. M.; Casella, J. F.; Inusa, B.; Howard, J.; Kirkham, F. J.; Anie, K. A.; Mullin, J. E.; Ichord, R.; Noetzel, M.; Yan, Y.; Rodeghier, M.; Debaun, M. R.

Blood. 2010 Oct 14; 117(3):772-9


Children with sickle cell disease (SCD) and strokes receive blood transfusion therapy for secondary stroke prevention; despite this, approximately 20% experience second overt strokes. Given this rate of second overt strokes and the clinical significance of silent cerebral infarcts, we tested the hypothesis that silent cerebral infarcts occur among children with SCD being transfused for secondary stroke prevention. A prospective cohort enrolled children with SCD and overt strokes at 7 academic centers. Magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance angiography of the brain were scheduled approximately every 1 to 2 years; studies were reviewed by a panel of neuroradiologists. Eligibility criteria included regularly scheduled blood transfusion therapy. Forty children were included; mean pretransfusion hemoglobin S concentration was 29%. Progressive cerebral infarcts occurred in 45% (18 of 40 children) while receiving chronic blood transfusion therapy; 7 had second overt strokes and 11 had new silent cerebral infarcts. Worsening cerebral vasculopathy was associated with new cerebral infarction (overt or silent; relative risk = 12.7; 95% confidence interval, 2.65-60.5, P = .001). Children with SCD and overt strokes receiving regular blood transfusion therapy experience silent cerebral infarcts at a higher rate than previously recognized. Additional therapies are needed for secondary stroke prevention in children with SCD.

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