Hydroxyurea decreases hospitalizations in pediatric patients with Hb SC and Hb SB+ thalassemia

Academic Article


  • Purpose: Patients with hemoglobin SC (Hb SC) and hemoglobin SB+ (Hb SB+) thalassemia suffer from frequent hospitalizations yet strong evidence of a clinical benefit of hydroxyurea (HU) in this population is lacking. Patients with recurrent hospitalizations for pain crisis are offered HU at our institution based on small cohort data and anecdotal benefit. This study identifies outcomes from a large cohort of patients with Hb SC and SB+ thalassemia who were treated with HU for 2 years. Materials and methods: A retrospective review was conducted of 32 patients with Hb SC and SB+ thalassemia who were treated with HU. We reviewed the number, and reasons for hospitalization in the 2 years prior to, and 2 years post-HU treatment as well as laboratory changes from baseline, over 1 year. Results: Patients with Hb SC and SB+ thalassemia started on HU for frequent pain, had a significant reduction in hospitalizations over 2 years as compared to the 2 years prior to HU initiation (mean total hospitalizations/year: pre-HU: 1.6 vs post-HU 0.4 hospitalizations, P<0.001; mean pain hospitalizations/year: pre-HU 1.5 vs post-HU 0.3 hospitalizations, P<0.001). Patients demonstrated hematologic changes including an increase in percent fetal hemoglobin (%HbF) pre–post HU (4.5% to 7.7%, P=0.002), mean corpuscular volume (74 to 86 fL, P<0,0001), and decrease in absolute neutrophil count (5.0 to 3.2×109/L, P=0.007). Patients with higher doses of HU demonstrated the greatest reduction in hospitalizations but this was unrelated to absolute neutrophil count. Conclusion: This cohort of patients with Hb SC and SB+ thalassemia provides additional support for using HU in patients with recurrent hospitalizations for pain. A large randomized multicenter trial of HU to reduce pain admissions should be conducted to confirm these data and provide much needed evidence based recommendations for this population.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Lebensburger JD; Patel RJ; Palabindela P; Bemrich-Stolz CJ; Howard TH; Hilliard LM
  • Start Page

  • 285
  • End Page

  • 290
  • Volume

  • 6