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Pediatr Neurol. 2013 Mar;48(3):188-99. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2012.12.004.

Cerebral blood flow abnormalities in children with sickle cell disease: a systematic review.

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Department of Diagnostic Imaging, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


A systematic review was performed to assess whether cerebral blood flow with different imaging modalities could identify brain abnormalities in children with sickle cell disease where structural magnetic resonance imaging and transcranial Doppler velocity appeared normal. A total of 11 studies were identified which reported cerebral blood flow abnormalities alongside structural magnetic resonance imaging or transcranial Doppler velocity abnormalities in patients with sickle cell disease. Potential for bias was assessed with the quality assessment of diagnostic accuracy studies scale in addition to treatment bias. Subjects of each study were categorized into patients with and without stroke. The prevalence of abnormalities for each modality was then separately calculated in each group. The included studies had mostly moderate degrees of bias. The prevalence of blood flow abnormalities compared with structural magnetic resonance imaging abnormalities was equal to or lower in patients with stroke and equal to or greater in patients without stroke. Blood flow abnormalities were more prevalent than transcranial Doppler abnormalities in four studies of patients without stroke and in one study of patients with stroke. The studies suggest that the assessment of cerebral blood flow in sickle cell disease can be of potential value in addressing brain abnormalities at the tissue level; however, further studies are warranted.

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