Intima-media thickness of the common carotid arteries as a marker of retinopathy and nephropathy in sickle cell disease

Ultrasonography. 2020 Jan;39(1):79-84. doi: 10.14366/usg.19016. Epub 2019 Jul 5.


Purpose: This study was conducted to test the hypothesis that the carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) is higher in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) than in the normal population, and to determine the relationships of the CIMT with central retinal artery (CRA) and renal artery Doppler indices.

Methods: Forty-four confirmed steady-state SCD patients aged 16 years and above were recruited consecutively. The Doppler velocimetric indices of their right renal artery and both CRAs were obtained. The CIMT was also measured on each side via B-mode ultrasonography. The subjects were categorized by age and sex. Mean and median values for each group were determined. The Spearman correlation test was used to quantify the relationships between CIMT and the Doppler parameters.

Results: The participants had a median age of 24.50 years (interquartile range, 12.50 to 36.50 years). Twenty-three were men (52.3%) and 21 were women (47.7%). The median CIMT was 0.70 mm (IQR, 0.50 to 0.90 mm). Significant correlations with the CIMT were found for the CRA peak systolic velocity (r=0.312, P=0.003), the renal artery resistivity index (RI) (r=0.284, P=0.007), and the renal artery pulsatility index (PI) (r=0.273, P=0.010). There was no significant relationship between the CIMT and the CRA end-diastolic velocity, CRA RI, or CRA PI.

Conclusion: CIMT in SCD patients was higher than in the previously reported age groups of the reference populations. In addition, the CIMT was significantly correlated with the CRA peak systolic velocity, the renal artery RI, and the renal artery PI.

Keywords: Carotid intima-media thickness, Renal artery Doppler indices; Central retinal artery; Vaso-occlusion.