Diagnostic significance of haematological testing in patients presenting at the Emergency Department

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Giuseppe Lippi *
Giovanni Targher
Giampaolo Neri
Clarissa Cattabiani
Silvia Pipitone
Gianfranco Cervellin
(*) Corresponding Author:
Giuseppe Lippi | lucia.zoppi@pagepress.org

Abstract

The use of simple and economic tests to rule out diseases of sufficient clinical severity is appealing in emergency department (ED), since it would be effective for contrasting ED overcrowding and decreasing healthcare costs. The aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic performance of simple and economic haematological testing in a large sample of adult patients presenting at the ED of the Academic Hospital of Parma during the year 2010 with the five most frequent acute pathologies (i.e., acute myocardial infarction, renal colic, pneumonia, trauma and pancreatitis). Both leukocyte count and hemoglobin showed a good diagnostic performance (Area Under the Curve [AUC] of 0.85 for leukocyte count and 0.76 for hemoglobin; both p < 0.01). Although the platelet count was significantly increased in all patients groups except pancreatitis, the diagnostic performance did not achieve statistical significance (AUC 0.53; p = 0.07). We also observed an increased RDW in all groups, except in those with trauma and the diagnostic performance was acceptable (AUC 0.705; p < 0.01). The mean platelet volume (MPV) was consistently lower in all patients groups and also characterized by an efficient diagnostic performance (AUC 0.76; p < 0.01). This evidence led us to design an arbitrary formula, whereby MPV and hemoglobin were multiplied, and further divided by the leukocyte count, obtaining a remarkable AUC (0.91; p < 0.01). We conclude that simple, rapid and cheap hematological tests might provide relevant clinical information for decision making to busy emergency physicians, and the their combination into an arbitrary formula might further increase the specific diagnostic potential of each of them.

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