Abnormal Cranial Magnetic Resonance Imaging Scans in Sickle-Cell Disease: Neurological Correlates and Clinical Implications

Steven Kugler, Brenda Anderson, Darryl C. Vivo, Zafar Sharif, Isak Prohovnik, Mary Sano, Rita Haggerty, Dewitt Cross, Anne Hurlet Jensen, Sadek Hilal, Jay P. Mohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Eight asymptomatic patients with sickle-cell disease (SCD) with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) abnormalities consistent with cerebral infarcts (group 1) and eight asymptomatic patients with SCD with normal MRI scans (group 2) were followed up to assess the neurological correlates and the clinical outcome. —Patients in the two cohorts underwent clinical evaluations and xenon 133 regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) studies within 1 month of the entry MRI. This study sequence was repeated up to 5 years later. Neuropsychological studies also were performed in six group 1 patients and eight group 2 patients at the end of the study. —The patients were recruited from the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center at Columbia University, New York, NY. —All patients had SCD, hemoglobin SS, and normal findings on clinical evaluation at entry. The group 1 cohort had clinically silent MRI abnormalities consistent with cerebral infarction. The group 2 cohort was age matched to group 1 and had normal MRI studies. —None. —The natural history of MRI abnormalities and the neurological correlates were assessed to determine the predictive value of subclinical MRI lesions as a risk factor for clinically apparent stroke. —The mean duration of MRI follow-up was 3.7 years. In group 1, four patients (50%) demonstrated progressive MRI abnormalities and three patients (38%) became clinically symptomatic. In group 2, findings for all patients remained normal on clinical and radiological examination. Both groups had markedly elevated rCBF values. Individual rCBF differences correlated with the specific MRI abnormalities. The psychometric study results were similar in the two cohorts. Eighty-three percent of group 1 and 88% of group 2 patients had defective scores in one or more areas of cognitive functioning. Three patients met cognitive criteria for dementia. —Cranial MRI abnormalities have important prognostic implications even when detected in clinically asymptomatic patients. Cognitive abnormalities exist in patients with SCD even in the absence of MRI abnormalities or clinical stroke.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-635
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Neurology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1993
Externally publishedYes


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