Aspirin ingestion was followed by hyperventilation, cerebellar signs, and fatal brain stem dysfunction in a patient with sickle cell disease. Autopsy showed a swollen, recently infarcted cerebellum with tonsillar herniation compressing the medulla. We propose that hypocapnea from aspirin-induced hyperventilation caused carotid artery constriction and focal cerebral hypoxia, resulting in cerebellar sickling and infarction. Hypocapnea should be treated promptly to prevent brain damage in patients with sickle cell disease.
(Arch Intern Med 138:148-149, 1978)