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J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2000 Jul-Aug;22(4):335-9.

Multicenter comparison of magnetic resonance imaging and transcranial Doppler ultrasonography in the evaluation of the central nervous system in children with sickle cell disease.

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  • 1St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, USA.



To compare the results of standardized magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain and transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasonography of cerebral arteries in school-aged children with sickle cell disease to determine the correlation between these two different neurodiagnostic tests.


Data were analyzed from 78 children with sickle cell disease (mean age 11 yrs) who participated in both the Cooperative Study of Sickle Cell Disease (CSSCD) and the Stroke Prevention Trial in Sickle Cell Anemia (STOP). Patients who had experienced an overt stroke were excluded. MRI findings were classified as normal or "silent infarct." Results of TCD were classified as normal, conditional, or abnormal, based on the time-averaged maximum mean flow velocity in the proximal middle cerebral and distal internal carotid arteries.


Of 61 patients who had a normal MRI examination, 11 (18%) had either conditional (5 patients) or abnormal (6 patients) TCD results. Among 17 patients in whom silent infarction was seen on MRI, only 5 (29%) had a conditional (1 patient) or abnormal (4 patients) TCD velocity. Thus, discordant results were seen in 23 patients: 12 in which the TCD result was normal and the MRI abnormal; 11 in which the TCD velocity was elevated and the MRI normal.


Abnormal TCD and MRI examinations reveal different aspects of the pathophysiology of central nervous system (CNS) injury in sickle cell disease and are often discordant. Although TCD abnormality is predictive of overt stroke, the lack of concordance between TCD and MRI findings suggests a need to develop more sensitive and specific indicators of early CNS pathology, such as neuropsychometric testing and positron-emission tomography (PET) scans, and to obtain more information about microvascular pathologic processes that may affect CNS function.

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