To compare the distal femoral cartilage thickness of patients with sickle cell disease (SCD) with those of healthy subjects using ultrasonography.
The study comprised 30 patients with SCD (16 male, 14 female; mean age, 30.1 years) and 30 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. Demographic features and medications of the patients were recorded. With the knees held in maximum flexion, the femoral cartilage thickness was measured bilaterally with a 7- to 12-MHz linear probe. Using ultrasonography, 3 midpoint measurements were taken from both knees: lateral femoral condyle (LFC), intercondylar area (ICA), and medial femoral condyle (MFC).
Patients with SCD had thinner femoral cartilage thickness values at LFC (P = 0.004), at MFC (P = 0.000), and ICA (P = 0.002) when compared with those of the healthy subjects. Patients with SCD also had lower Hb levels (P = 0.000) levels. Weak positive correlations were determined between Hemoglobin (Hb) levels and ultrasonographic measurements in the SCD group at MFC (r = 0.331, P = 0.010), and ICA (r = 0.289 , P = 0.025 ). Low levels of Hb seem to affect the femoral cartilage thickness.
These preliminary findings of decreased femoral cartilage thickness in SCD patients should be complemented with future studies. The possibility of early knee joint degeneration and eventual osteoarthritis in SCD should be kept in mind.
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