Red cell distribution width in the diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia

D Viswanath, R Hegde, V Murthy, S Nagashree, R Shah
Indian Journal of Pediatrics 2001, 68 (12): 1117-9

OBJECTIVE: 1. To compare peripheral smear (PS) and Red cell distribution width (RDW) in diagnosis of Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) in various grades. 2. To study the changes in RDW and PS after therapy.

METHODS: Children in the age group of six months to five years with microcytic (MCV<80fl) anemia (Hemoglobin <11 g%) were evaluated. Those who had received blood transfusion and /or were already on iron therapy were excluded. Evaluation included clinical examination, complete blood count (CBC), RDW estimation microscopic examination of peripheral smear, measurement of serum iron and transferrin saturation. Children with IDA were treated with oral iron for 8 weeks and PS, CBC including RDW were repeated.

RESULT: Of the 100 children evaluated, 89 had IDA. 48% had mild, 42% had moderate and 10% had severe anemia. Transferrin saturation correlated with severity of anemia. Peripheral smear showed microcytosis and hypochromia in all cases with severe anemia, 61.5% and 22.5% of those with moderate and mild anemia respectively. RDW was suggestive of iron deficiency in 100%, 82.05% and 100% of patient with mild, moderate and severe anemia respectively.

CONCLUSION: In the diagnosis of mild and moderate iron deficiency anemia, RDW had a higher sensitivity than PS. Red cell morphology, Hb, PCV and RDW showed significant improvement after iron-therapy.

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