In order to define better the presentation, roentgenographic features,
and clinical course of sickle-cell dactylitis, the records of nine children
with sickle-cell anemia and acutely painful, swollen digits were reviewed.
The average age of these children at the time of diagnosis was eighteen
months, and in five instances the dactylitis occurred before the diagnosis
of sickle-cell disease was established. The clinical signs, consisting of
swelling, tenderness, fever, and leukocytosis, were self-limiting and
resolved in five to thirty-one days. The roentgenographic features,
characterized by periosteal new-bone formation or intramedullary densities,
appeared in seven to fourteen days and resolved in two to three months.
Incorrect diagnosis is frequent in this condition but can be avoided as
familiarity with the syndrome increases.