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J Postgrad Med. 2019 Jul-Sep;65(3):171-176. doi: 10.4103/jpgm.JPGM_127_19.

Beta-thalassemia major complicated by intracranial hemorrhage and critical illness polyneuropathy.

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Department of Pediatrics, Seth G.S. Medical College and K.E.M. Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.


Intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) is rarely seen in patients with thalassemia. A seven-year-old male, known case of beta-thalassemia major, on irregular packed cell transfusions (elsewhere) and non-compliant with chelation therapy, presented with congestive cardiac failure (Hb-3 gm/dl). He received three packed red cell transfusions over 7 days (cumulative volume 40 cc/kg). On the 9th day, he developed projectile vomiting and two episodes of generalized tonic-clonic convulsions with altered sensorium. He had exaggerated deep tendon reflexes and extensor plantars. CT-scan of brain revealed bilateral acute frontal hematoma with diffuse subarachnoid hemorrhage (frontal and parietal). Coagulation profile was normal. CT-angiography of brain showed diffuse focal areas of reduced caliber of anterior cerebral, middle cerebral, and basilar and internal carotid arteries (likely to be a spasmodic reaction to subarachnoid hemorrhage). He required mechanical ventilation for 4 days and conservative management for the hemorrhage. However, on the 18th day, he developed one episode of generalized tonic-clonic convulsion and his sensorium deteriorated further (without any new ICH) and required repeat mechanical ventilation for 12 days. On the 28th day, he was noticed to have quadriplegia (while on a ventilator). Nerve conduction study (42nd day) revealed severe motor axonal neuropathy (suggesting critical illness polyneuropathy). He improved with physiotherapy and could sit upright and speak sentences at discharge (59th day). The child recovered completely after 3 months. It is wise not to transfuse more than 20 cc/kg of packed red cell volume during each admission and not more than once in a week (exception being congestive cardiac failure) for thalassemia patients.


Blood transfusion; child; magnetic resonance imaging; polyneuropathies; quadriplegia; stroke

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