Journal of pediatric hematology/oncology

Practice patterns of stroke screening and hydroxyurea use in children with sickle cell disease: a survey of health care providers.

PMID 24714503


Incidence of stroke in sickle cell disease (SCD) has declined with the use of transcranial Doppler ultrasound and chronic transfusion therapy. There is little information regarding their use in genotypes other than HbSS and HbSβ. Silent cerebral infarcts (SCIs) have been identified by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in SCD patients and it is believed that these may increase the risk of overt stroke. No evidence-based guidelines exist regarding MRI screening for SCIs. Hydroxyurea is a standard therapy in patients with history of acute chest syndrome and severe, recurrent, SCD-associated pain episodes, but has not been established for use with other sickle-associated morbidities. A total of 102 institutions received a survey (with 62 responses) to assess the use of transcranial Doppler ultrasound for stroke screening, use of screening MRI for SCIs, and institutional patterns for prescribing hydroxyurea. Nineteen percent of institutions screen genotypes other than HbSS and HbSβ, and 24% use MRI to screen for SCIs. Twenty-six percent of institutions prescribed hydroxyurea in patient found to have SCIs. Results indicate significant variation in stroke screening and hydroxyurea use often correlating with clinic size, number of physician providers, and geographic location. There are currently no evidence-based guidelines to support many of these practices.