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Blood. 2011 Jul 28;118(4):894-8. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-12-326298. Epub 2011 Jun 1.

Discontinuing prophylactic transfusions increases the risk of silent brain infarction in children with sickle cell disease: data from STOP II.

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American University of Beirut Medical Center, Beirut, Lebanon.


In the STOP II trial, discontinuation of prophylactic transfusions in high risk children with sickle cell disease (SCD) resulted in a high rate of reversion to abnormal blood-flow velocities on transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasonography and strokes. We analyzed data from STOP II to determine the effect of discontinuing transfusions on the development or progression of silent brain infarcts on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). At study entry, 21 of 79 (27%) patients had evidence of silent infarcts. There were no statistically significant differences in baseline characteristics between patients with normal brain MRI or silent infarcts at study entry. At study end, 3 of 37 (8.1%) patients in the continued-transfusion group developed new brain MRI lesions compared with 11 of 40 (27.5%) in the transfusion-halted group (P = .03). The total number of lesions remained essentially unchanged decreasing from 25 to 24 in the continued-transfusion group while increasing from 27 to 45 in transfusion-halted patients. Thus, discontinuation of transfusions in children with SCD and abnormal TCD who revert to low-risk increases the risk of silent brain infarction. Together with data from STOP, these findings demonstrate that transfusions prevent the development of silent infarcts in patients with SCD and abnormal TCD but normal MRA.

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