A critical assessment of transcranial doppler screening rates in a large pediatric sickle cell center: opportunities to improve healthcare quality

Pediatr Blood Cancer. 2008 Nov;51(5):647-51. doi: 10.1002/pbc.21677.


Background: Transcranial Doppler ultrasound (TCD) has been demonstrated to be a powerful predictor of stroke risk due to sickle cell disease (SCD) in pediatric populations. Little is known about how this healthcare innovation has disseminated into preventive care for SCD. The objective of this study was to determine TCD screening rates and modifiable patient barriers in children with SCD.

Procedure: We retrospectively assessed the screening of 207 children with SCD at the Texas Children's Sickle Cell Center over a 3-year period (2004-2006). Demographics, adherence to comprehensive care visits, severity of disease, and distance from the sickle cell center were obtained from computerized medical record databases. Screenings cancelled or missed by patients were extracted from a computerized order entry system.

Results: The average yearly screening rate for eligible patients was 45%. The average yearly cancellation rate by patients was 20%. Patient with private insurance were three times more likely to be compliant with ordered screenings than patients with Medicaid (P = 0.0077). Patients adherent to hematology comprehensive care visits more likely underwent ordered screenings than those who were not (P = 0.0386). When given at least one opportunity per year, providers, on average, ordered TCD screening 74% of the time when it was indicated.

Conclusions: Despite evidence that routine screening to assess stroke risk is vital to the preventive care of SCD, implementation of this healthcare technology may be slow to disseminate due to patient and provider related factors.

MeSH terms

  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Patient Compliance / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Health Care*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Stroke / diagnosis*
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler, Transcranial