Does Red Cell Distribution Width Predict Outcome in Traumatic Brain Injury: Comparison to Corticosteroid Randomization After Significant Head Injury

Farid Sadaka, Nicholas Doctors, Tallia Pearson, Brian Snyders, Jacklyn O’Brien


Background: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a leading cause of death and disability. The role of red cell distribution width (RDW) as a prognostic biomarker for outcome in TBI patients is unknown. Based on the corticosteroid randomization after significant head injury (CRASH) trial database, a prognosis calculator (CRASH) has been developed for outcome prediction in TBI. The objectives of this study are to investigate the association between RDW on day 1 of TBI and outcome, and to compare outcome prediction from RDW to that from CRASH.

Methods: We performed a retrospective review of patients with TBI and a Glasgow coma scale (GCS) score of 14 or less. Day 1 RDW and CRASH data were extracted. CRASH was calculated for each patient. Outcome was defined as mortality at 14 days and GOS at 6 months, with poor outcome defined as GOS of 1 - 3. Patients were stratified according to RDW values into six groups, and according to CRASH values into six groups.

Results: A total of 416 patients with TBI were included, with 339 survivors (S) and 77 non-survivors (NS). Compared to survivors, non-survivors were of similar age in years (58 ± 23 vs. 58 ± 23, P = 1.0), had lower GCS scores (5 ± 3 vs. 12 ± 3, P = 0.0001), similar RDW (14.0 ± 1.2 vs. 13.9 ± 1.5, P = 0.6), and higher CRASH values (68 ± 26 vs. 24 ± 22, P = 0.0001). Estimating the receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) area under the curve (AUC) showed that CRASH was a significantly better predictor of mortality compared to RDW (AUC = 0.91 ± 0.01 for CRASH compared to 0.66 ± 0.03 for RDW; P < 0.0001). In addition, CRASH was a better predictor of neurologic outcome compared to RDW (AUC = 0.85 ± 0.02 for CRASH compared to 0.76 ± 0.03 for RDW; P = 0.005).

Conclusions: CRASH calculator was a strong predictor of mortality in patients with TBI. RDW on day 1 did not differ between survivors and non-survivors, and was a poor predictor of mortality. Both RDW on day 1 and CRASH calculator are good predictors of 6-month outcome in TBI patients, although CRASH calculator remains a better predictor.

J Clin Med Res. 2018;10(1):9-12


Red cell distribution width; Traumatic brain injury; Mortality; Outcome

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