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883 Optimizing the Frequency of Transcranial Doppler (TCD) Exams in Children with Sickle Cell AnemiaClinically Relevant Abstract

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Type: Oral
Session: 901. Health Services and Quality—Non-Malignant Conditions: Level Up! Taking Quality Care to the Next Level in Sickle Cell Disease
Hematology Disease Topics & Pathways:
Clinical Practice (Health Services and Quality)
Monday, December 12, 2022: 2:45 PM

Ayobami Olanrewaju, MBBS1, Zachary Abramson, MD2*, Jane S Hankins, MD, MS3, Clifford Takemoto4*, M. Beth McCarville, MD5*, Andrew M Heitzer, PhD6*, Guolian Kang, PhD, MS7, Victoria Okhomina5* and Winfred C. Wang, MD3

1Department of Hematology, St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Cordova, TN
2St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis
3Department of Hematology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
4Hematology, St. Jude Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
5St Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
6Department of Psychology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN
7Department of Biostatistics, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN


Transcranial Doppler (TCD) screening of the large intracranial arteries can detect elevated blood velocity and is a strong predictor of stroke risk in children with sickle cell anemia (SCA, HbSS and HbSβ0-thalassemia). Initiation of chronic blood transfusion for patients with confirmed abnormal TCD velocities (time-averaged mean velocity, TAMV≥200 cm/sec) is shown to effectively reduce primary stroke. Current guidelines recommend annual TCD screening for children with SCA ages 2-16 years. Screening intervals were developed following evidence from the STOP studies1 (Figure 1). The estimated prevalence of normal TCD velocities is 83%2 and these children will have received 15 TCD exams from ages 2 to 16 if all results remain within normal range. The cumulative incidence of conversion from normal to conditional TCD velocities is dependent on age, whereby the risk is four times lower in children >10 years, compared to those <10 years of age3. Although TCD screening is non-invasive and safe, it consumes time and requires specialized equipment and trained examiners. Identifying sub-populations for whom TCD screening frequency could be safely reduced could lessen time burden on patients and caregivers and could be cost saving.

Main objective

To estimate the risk of TAMV conversion from normal to conditional or abnormal categories among children with SCA relative to age.


We included all participants with SCA from the Sickle Cell Clinical Research and Intervention Program, a longitudinal lifetime cohort of patients with SCD with at least one TCD measurement available both before and after age 10 years. We classified participants into two groups based on TCD screening results before 10 years of age; one group with all normal TCDs, and the other group with at least one non-normal TCD. We then compared the time to first non-normal study after ten years of age between the two groups using the log rank test. Time to first conversion was defined as time from age 10, to time of conversion if conversion occurred, or time to last follow up if no conversion occurred. We correlated the number of TCD exams before age 10 with time to first conversion using the Cox proportional regression model. Exposure to chronic transfusion or hydroxyurea before age 10 and age at first TCD measurement were covariates and were correlated with the time to first conversion.


Of the 614 patients with TCD screening, 297 had SCA and at least 1 screening before and after age 10 (Table 1). Of these, 174 patients had only normal TCD screening before age 10 and the remaining 123 patients had at least 1 non-normal TCD screening before age 10. During the time they were followed, no patients with only normal TCD screenings before age 10, regardless of exposure to hydroxyurea or transfusions, had a conditional or abnormal TCD exam. Conversely, 41.5% of patients with at least one non-normal TCD before age 10 had a conditional or abnormal TCD screening after age 10.


In a large retrospective cohort study analysis of children with SCA, patients with TCD exams consistently within the normal range under age 10 years were not at risk of conversion to conditional or abnormal TAMV. These results suggest that children with SCA with all normal TCD velocities before age 10 years may not require additional TCD screening exams after age 10. These results translate to 6 fewer TCD exams per each child with SCA over age 10 with all prior normal TCD exams, potentially conserving resources and reducing burden on patients, families, and the health system. De-implementation studies to reduce the use of TCD screening exams in low-risk cases are needed


  1. Lee MT, Piomelli S, Granger S, et al. Stroke Prevention Trial in Sickle Cell Anemia (STOP): extended follow-up and final results. Blood. 2006;108(3):847-852.
  2. Adams RJ, McKie VC, Carl EM, et al. Long-term stroke risk in children with sickle cell disease screened with transcranial doppler. Ann Neurol. 1997;42(5):699-704.
  3. Hankins JS, Fortner GL, McCarville MB, et al. The natural history of conditional transcranial Doppler flow velocities in children with sickle cell anaemia. Br J Haematol. 2008;142(1):94-99.

Disclosures: Heitzer: Global Blood Therapeutics: Consultancy.

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