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This prospective study was planned to assess whether red blood cell (RBC) parameters may be useful in diagnostics of patients with brain injury after mild head trauma. The RBC count, hemoglobin, hematocrit, RBC distribution width (RDW) and mean corpuscular volume were assessed in all consecutive patients admitted to the emergency department over 3 months with isolate, mild head trauma and Glasgow coma scale between 14-15, and seen within 3 h from trauma. The final study population consisted of 54 patients (21 women and 33 men; median age=48 years), of whom, 13 (24%) with positive computed tomography (CT). No significant difference was found for age (P=0.45) and gender (P=0.21) distribution between CT positive and negative patients. No significant difference was observed for the median concentration of all the RBC parameters tested, and the preva- lence of anemia (P=0.37) and anysocytosis (P=0.40) did not differ significantly between patients with positive and negative CT. Red blood cell distribution width assessment upon patient admission did not provide a significant contribution to final diagnosis of mild head injury in receiver operating characteristic curve analysis [area under the curve (AUC) 0.51; P=0.44]. We conclude that assessment of RDW does not provide useful clinical information for diagnosing brain injury after mild head trauma.
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