The Stroke Prevention Trial has confirmed that utilization of transcranial Doppler ultrasonography (TCD), which examines blood flow in large intracranial vessels, can identify children with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are at high risk of developing a premature stroke. It is not known to what extent the vasculopathy in SCD involves small vessels and whether the abnormalities, if present, correlate with large-vessel vasculopathy. Eighteen children with SCD were examined with TCD to determine middle cerebral artery (MCA) velocity and computer-]assisted intravital microscopy (CAIM) to determine bulbar conjunctival vessel velocity during the same visit for vasculopathy correlation. High MCA velocity (≥ 200 cm/sec) was found by TCD in 4 patients who also showed abnormal conjunctival velocity (< 0.2 mm/sec or intermittent trickle flow) by CAIM. Three patients had conditional (≥ 170 cm/sec and < 200 cm/sec) MCA velocity: 2 showed abnormal (trickle) and 1 showed normal conjunctival velocity (1.9 mm/sec). One patient with unmeasurable MCA velocity had abnormal (trickle) conjunctival velocity. Of the remaining 10 patients who had normal MCA velocity, 2 showed abnormal (0.05 mm/sec and 0.1 mm/sec) and 8 showed normal conjunctival velocities (1.1-2.4 mm/sec). The MCA velocities correlated significantly with bulbar conjunctival flow velocities (P ≤ .008, Fisher exact test). A correlation exists between MCA (large-vessel) and conjunctival (small-vessel) flow velocities. CAIM is a noninvasive quantitative technique that might contribute to the identification of SCD patients at high risk of stroke. Small-vessel vasculopathy might be an important pathological indicator and should be further explored in a largescale study.
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