Normalized Transcranial Doppler Velocities, Stroke Prevention and Improved Pulmonary Function after Stem Cell Transplantation in Children with Sickle Cell Anemia
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BACKGROUND: Abnormal transcranial Doppler velocities (TCD) indicate an increased risk of stroke in patients with sickle cell anemia (SCA) and require regular blood transfusions. Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is under discussion as an alternative to chronic transfusion in these patients. PATIENTS AND METHODS: This retrospective analysis includes 9 patients with SCA undergoing HSCT at a single center in Germany. Special focus was given to the neurologic follow-up and to the results of TCD studies. RESULTS: High risk of stroke or previous stroke was an HSCT-indication in 8 of 9 patients, although most patients had more than one indication for HSCT. TCD was normalized in all 5 patients after HSCT in whom this test was available. None of the patients developed a stroke after HSCT. No further strokes occurred even in patients that experienced recurrent strokes during chronic transfusion before HSCT. 2 of the 9 patients received a 10/10 HLA-matched unrelated donor graft, the others matched related grafts.All patients were alive, free of SCA symptoms and transfusion-independent with stable chimerism 3-11 years after HSCT. Pulmonary function tests normalized in 1 patient with severe sickle cell lung disease. CONCLUSION: HSCT is able to prevent stroke in patients with SCA. Its perspectives and limitations should be discussed early during the treatment of a patient with complicated SCA.
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