Brain infarction in sickle cell anemia: Magnetic resonance imaging correlates

Steven G. Pavlakis, Jacqueline Bello, Isak Prohovnik, Millicent Sutton, Carol Ince, Jay P. Mohr, Sergio Piomelli, Sadek Hilal, Darryl C. De Vivo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

129 Scopus citations


Brain infarction is a well‐known but poorly understood complication of sickle cell disease. Seventy‐three sickle cell disease patients underwent neurological examinations and high‐field, heavily T2‐weighted axial cranial magnetic resonance image (MRI) scanning. Eighteen of the 73 had a history of stroke, defined as an acute, focal neurological sign lasting longer than 1 hour; in the event of a convulsive onset, an MRI abnormality as a correlate was necessary. Sixteen of the 18 stroke patients demonstrated focal MRI abnormalities consistent with arterial borderzone infarctions. Fifty‐five of the 73 patients had no history of stroke. Six of the 55 (11%) had focal MRI abnormalities suggesting previous subclinical stroke. Five of these lesions were in borderzone regions. The distinguishing feature in 21 of the 22 patients with MRI abnormalities was the predilection for lesions in the high cortical convexity, in the general regions of arterial borderzones between the major cerebral arteries and adjacent deep white matter. The pattern of MRI lesions suggests two pathogenetic mechanisms: (1) proximal large‐vessel disease with inadequate cerebral perfusion (distal field insufficiency syndrome) and (2) distal small‐vessel disease (sludging syndrome).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-130
Number of pages6
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1988
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

Cite this

Pavlakis, S. G., Bello, J., Prohovnik, I., Sutton, M., Ince, C., Mohr, J. P., ... De Vivo, D. C. (1988). Brain infarction in sickle cell anemia: Magnetic resonance imaging correlates. Annals of Neurology, 23(2), 125-130.