Improved Early Detection of Sepsis in the ED With a Novel Monocyte Distribution Width Biomarker

Chest. 2017 Sep;152(3):518-526. doi: 10.1016/j.chest.2017.05.039. Epub 2017 Jun 15.


Background: Sepsis most often presents to the ED, and delayed detection is harmful. WBC count is often used to detect sepsis, but changes in WBC count size also correspond to sepsis. We sought to determine if volume increases of circulating immune cells add value to the WBC count for early sepsis detection in the ED.

Methods: A blinded, prospective cohort study was conducted in two different ED populations within a large academic hospital.

Results: Neutrophil and monocyte volume parameters were measured in conjunction with routine CBC testing on a UniCel DxH 800 analyzer at the time of ED admission and were evaluated for the detection of sepsis. There were 1,320 subjects in the ED consecutively enrolled and categorized as control subjects (n = 879) and those with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) (n = 203), infection (n = 140), or sepsis (n = 98). Compared with other parameters, monocyte distribution width (MDW) best discriminated sepsis from all other conditions (area under the curve [AUC], 0.79; 95% CI, 0.73-0.84; sensitivity, 0.77; specificity, 0.73; MDW threshold, 20.50), sepsis from SIRS (AUC, 0.74; 95% CI, 0.67-0.84), and severe sepsis from noninfected patients in the ED (AUC, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.75-0.99; negative predictive value, 99%). The added value of MDW to WBC count was statistically significant (AUC, 0.89 for MDW + WBC vs 0.81 for WBC alone; P < .01); a decision curve analysis also showed improved performance compared with WBC count alone.

Conclusions: The incorporation of MDW with WBC count is shown in this prospective cohort study to improve detection of sepsis compared with WBC count alone at the time of admission in the ED.

Trial registry:; No.: NCT02232750; URL:

Keywords: ED; biomarker; blood; cell volume; monocyte; sepsis.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cell Size
  • Cohort Studies
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monocytes*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • ROC Curve
  • Sepsis / blood*
  • Sepsis / diagnosis*


  • Biomarkers

Associated data