Financial analysis of chronic transfusion for stroke prevention in sickle cell disease

Blood. 2000 Oct 1;96(7):2369-72.


Chronic red blood cell transfusion can prevent many of the manifestations of sickle cell disease. The medical costs of chronic transfusion and management of associated side effects, especially iron overload, are considerable. This study was undertaken to evaluate the financial impact of chronic transfusion for stroke prevention in patients with sickle cell anemia. Outpatient charges pertaining to hospital-based Medicare uniform bill (UB-92) codes, professional fees, and iron chelation were evaluated. Data were collected on 21 patients for a total of 296 patient months (mean, 14; median, 14 months/patient). Charges ranged from $9828 to $50 852 per patient per year. UB-92, chelation, and physician-related charges accounted for 53%, 42%, and 5% of total charges, respectively. Of UB-92 charges, 58% were associated with laboratory fees and 16% were related to the processing and administration of blood. Charges for patients who required chelation therapy ranged from $31 143 to $50 852 per patient per year (mean, $39 779; median, $38 607). Deferoxamine accounted for 71% of chelation-related charges, which ranged from $12 719 to $24 845 per patient per year (mean, $20 514; median, $21 381). The financial impact of chronic transfusion therapy for sickle cell disease is substantial with charges approaching $400 000 per patient decade for patients who require deferoxamine chelation. These data should be considered in reference to cost and efficacy analyses of alternative therapies for sickle cell disease, such as allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications*
  • Child
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Deferoxamine / therapeutic use
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion / adverse effects
  • Erythrocyte Transfusion / economics*
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Iron Chelating Agents / therapeutic use
  • Iron Overload / drug therapy
  • Iron Overload / etiology
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Iron Chelating Agents
  • Deferoxamine