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Sickle cell crisis in the adult: chest radiographic findings and comparison with pediatric sickle cell disease

Sickle cell crisis in the adult: chest radiographic findings and comparison with pediatric sickle cell disease

Journal of the National Medical Association 93(2): 58-63

With the advent of improved therapy, an increasing proportion of individuals suffering from sickle cell disease (SCD) are surviving into adulthood. In contrast to children, little has been documented concerning the typical radiographic findings in adults presenting with sickle cell crises (SCC). We describe the chest radiographic (CXR) manifestations of adults with SCD presenting in SSC, correlated to hemoglobin (Hb) values, and compare them to those of the pediatric sickle cell population. The chest radiographs of 66 consecutive adults presenting to our emergency department complaining of symptoms consistent with acute SCC were retrospectively reviewed over a 12-month period. The radiographic findings were correlated with admission Hb values and compared with those of 50 children with known SCD presenting with SCC. Chi square analysis revealed no significant difference between the cardiovascular and bony findings in the adults and in those of the pediatric controls (p > 0.08-p > 1.0). However, one important difference in the two cohorts was that upper lobe infiltrates occurred exclusively in the pediatric group (p = 0.06). There was a statistically significant (p < 0.05) difference in cardiovascular and skeletal abnormalities between adults with Hb above and below the mean (8.2 g/dL). The radiographic features of adults presenting in acute SCCs are similar to those of children. Although the chest radiograph is often normal, in decreasing frequency, cardiovascular abnormalities, pneumonia sparing the upper lobes, and aseptic osteonecrosis of the shoulders and spine are not uncommon. There is a significant relationship, however, between cardiovascular abnormalities and Hb levels.

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Accession: 050304380

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PMID: 12653383

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