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scientific articles

Blood transfusion for preventing primary and secondary stroke in people with sickle cell disease

key information

source: The Cochrane database of systematic reviews

year: 2017

authors: Lise J Estcourt, Patricia M Fortin, Sally Hopewell, Marialena Trivella, Winfred C Wang

summary/abstract:

Background:

Sickle cell disease is one of the commonest severe monogenic disorders in the world, due to the inheritance of two abnormal haemoglobin (beta globin) genes. Sickle cell disease can cause severe pain, significant end-organ damage, pulmonary complications, and premature death. Stroke affects around 10% of children with sickle cell anaemia (HbSS). Chronic blood transfusions may reduce the risk of vaso-occlusion and stroke by diluting the proportion of sickled cells in the circulation.

 

Objectives:

To assess risks and benefits of chronic blood transfusion regimens in people with sickle cell disease for primary and secondary stroke prevention (excluding silent cerebral infarcts).

 

Search methods:

We searched for relevant trials in the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE (from 1946), Embase (from 1974), the Transfusion Evidence Library (from 1980), and ongoing trial databases; all searches current to 04 April 2016.

 

Selection criteria:

Randomised controlled trials comparing red blood cell transfusions as prophylaxis for stroke in people with sickle cell disease to alternative or standard treatment. There were no restrictions by outcomes examined, language or publication status.

 

Data collection and analysis:

Two authors independently assessed trial eligibility and the risk of bias and extracted data.

 

Main results:

We included five trials (660 participants) published between 1998 and 2016. Four of these trials were terminated early. The vast majority of participants had the haemoglobin (Hb)SS form of sickle cell disease. Three trials compared regular red cell transfusions to standard care in primary prevention of stroke: two in children with no previous long-term transfusions; and one in children and adolescents on long-term transfusion. Two trials compared the drug hydroxyurea (hydroxycarbamide) and phlebotomy to long-term transfusions and iron chelation therapy: one in primary prevention (children); and one in secondary prevention (children and adolescents).

The quality of the evidence was very low to moderate across different outcomes according to GRADE methodology. This was due to the trials being at a high risk of bias due to lack of blinding, indirectness and imprecise outcome estimates.

organization: John Radcliffe Hospital, UK; University of Oxford, UK; St Jude Children's Research Hospital, USA

DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003146.pub3

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