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J Pediatr. 1991 Mar;118(3):377-82.

High risk of recurrent stroke after discontinuance of five to twelve years of transfusion therapy in patients with sickle cell disease.

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Department of Hematology-Oncology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38101.


Although long-term transfusion therapy is at least 90% effective in preventing recurrent strokes after an initial cerebrovascular accident in patients with sickle cell disease, it is unknown how long transfusion therapy should be continued. To address this question, we prospectively discontinued transfusions in 10 patients with sickle cell disease whose median duration of transfusion therapy after an initial stroke was 9 1/2 years (range 5 to 12 years). Before the transfusions were discontinued, patients were examined by cerebral angiography, magnetic resonance imaging of the head, neuropsychologic testing, electroencephalography, and a complete neurologic examination. Within 12 months after transfusion therapy was stopped, 5 of 10 patients had had an ischemic event. Three events caused relatively mild deficits in the same areas as those originally affected. Two were associated with massive intracranial hemorrhage, including one on the contralateral side of original involvement. An additional patient died suddenly of unknown causes. Of the four remaining patients, three declined to resume transfusion and are relatively well at greater than or equal to 18 months after therapy was stopped. The studies performed before transfusions were stopped were not predictive of recurrent stroke. The risk of recurrent cerebrovascular accident in this group was significantly greater than the estimated risk of 10% in patients who are receiving long-term transfusion therapy (p = 0.002). This adverse outcome suggests that patients with sickle cell disease who have had a stroke must receive long-term transfusion indefinitely or a suitable therapeutic alternative must be devised.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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