Many children with sickle cell anemia (SCA) also have clinical and radiographic findings of an arteriopathy suggestive of moyamoya syndrome. These patients may continue to experience strokes despite optimal medical management. The authors wished to define features of moyamoya syndrome associated with SCA and determine the results of surgical revascularization in these patients at early and late follow-up.
The authors reviewed the clinical and radiographic records of all patients with moyamoya syndrome and SCA who underwent cerebral revascularization surgery using a standardized surgical procedure—pial synangiosis—from 1985 to 2008.
Twelve patients had SCA and moyamoya syndrome. Six patients were female and 6 were male. The average patient age at surgery was 11.3 years (range 3–22 years). All patients presented with ischemic symptoms, 11 (92%) with previous transient ischemic attacks, and 10 (83%) with completed strokes. Eleven patients (92%) had radiographic evidence of previous stroke at presentation. None presented with hemorrhage. Surgical treatment included pial synangiosis in all patients. Complications included 1 perioperative stroke, 1 wound infection, and 1 perioperative pneumonia. The average length of hospital stay was 5.7 days (including a 24-hour preoperative admission for hydration) and average blood loss was 92.5 ml/hemisphere (in a total of 19 hemispheres). Clinical and radiographic follow-up with an average of 49 months (range 9–144 months) demonstrated no worsening in neurological status in any patient. No clinical or radiographic evidence of new infarcts was observed in any patient at late follow-up, despite disease progression in 13 (68%) of 19 hemispheres.
The clinical and radiographic features of moyamoya syndrome associated with SCA appear comparable to primary moyamoya disease. Successful treatment of these patients requires multidisciplinary care involving hematologists, anesthesiologists, and neurosurgeons. Operative treatment of moyamoya syndrome using pial synangiosis appears to be safe and confers long-lasting protection against further stroke in this population, and provides an alternative for failure of optimal medical therapy in patients. This study underscores the potential merit of screening patients with SCA for moyamoya syndrome.