While sickle cell disease (SCD) is generally mild in most Kuwaitis, because of their elevated fetal Hb levels, avascular necrosis of the femoral head (AVNFH) appears to be a common complication. It was recently documented in 26.7% of Kuwaiti children with SCD. There have, however, been no previous studies of adult patients. This is a 1-year study of consecutive, steady-state SCD patients seen in the hematology clinic of Mubarak Al-Kabeer Hospital. The patients’ charts were reviewed for frequency of hospitalizations, any documented complications and steady-state complete blood count (CBC). MRI was performed using T1- and T2-weighted FATSAT sequences in coronal and axial planes with 4-mm-thick slices on a 1.5-tesla GE super-conducting magnet. Thirty-five patients were studied, consisting of 25 SS and 10 Sβ⁰Thal patients aged between 17 and 44, with a mean age of 26.7 ± 9.3 years. Seventeen (48.6%) had varying degrees of AVNFH; among the 70 hips examined, 29 (41.1%) were affected. Of the 17 patients affected, 11 (64.7%) were SS, while 6 (35.3%) were Sβ⁰Thal. There were 14 (82.4%) males and 3 (17.6%) females (χ2 = 8.6, p < 0.01). The mean age of those affected, 27.5 ± 10.7 years, was not significantly higher than that of the unaffected (26.3 ± 8.0 years). Eleven (64.7%) of those affected had a history of frequent vaso-occlusive crisis. No significant differences could be demonstrated in the mean CBC and Hb F values of the two groups; coexistent α-thal trait was not a factor in the SS group. Male gender was the only significant predisposing factor identified. While more patients with frequent vaso-occlusive crises were affected, the difference was not significant. AVNFH is, indeed, quite common among Kuwaiti SCD patients and there is a need for early institution of preventive and therapeutic protocols.

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