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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 120

of 'Red blood cell transfusion in sickle cell disease'

Visual and auditory neurotoxicity in patients receiving subcutaneous deferoxamine infusions.
Olivieri NF, Buncic JR, Chew E, Gallant T, Harrison RV, Keenan N, Logan W, Mitchell D, Ricci G, Skarf B
N Engl J Med. 1986;314(14):869.
Of 89 patients receiving nightly subcutaneous deferoxamine for transfusion-dependent thalassemia major or Diamond-Blackfan anemia, 13 presented with visual loss or deafness of acute onset or both. Detailed ophthalmologic, audiologic, and evoked-potential studies uncovered abnormalities caused by neurotoxicity in 27 more. Four patients with visual loss had optic neuropathy, with a marked decrease in acuity, loss of color vision, and delayed visual evoked potentials. Five asymptomatic patients had changes in the pigment of the retinal epithelium. The hearing loss was characterized by a high-frequency sensorineural deficit, which necessitated hearing aids in six patients. When deferoxamine was stopped, recovery of vision was complete in 2 patients and partial in 2, and in 22 patients with abnormal audiograms, reversal of the hearing deficit was complete in 4 and partial in 1. An analysis of the clinical data showed that members of the affected group were younger, had lower serum ferritin values, and were self-administering higher doses of deferoxamine per kilogram of body weight. Significantly lower doses of deferoxamine were being taken by patients without abnormalities than by those with visual symptoms, abnormal audiograms, or prolonged evoked potentials (P less than 0.001, less than 0.006, and less than 0.04, respectively). The data implicate high-dose deferoxamine as a central factor in the pathogenesis of the neurotoxicity. We strongly recommend careful regulation of the deferoxamine dosage and serial audiovisual monitoring in all patients receiving the drug.