Aim: The aim of this study was to explore whether red blood cell distribution width (RDW) can help predict the risk of short-term mortality in patients with acute decompensation of cirrhosis.
Patients and methods: We carried out a retrospective analysis of all patients consecutively admitted to the emergency department (ED) of the University Hospital of Verona (Italy) for acute decompensation of liver cirrhosis, between 1 June 2013 and 31 December 2016. The RDW value was measured at ED admission, along with collection of clinical features and other laboratory data, and was then correlated with severity of disease (Chronic Liver Failure Consortium Acute Decompensation score; CLIF-C AD score) and 1-month mortality.
Results: The final study population consisted of 542 patients, 80 (14.8%) of whom died within 30 days after ED admission. The median RDW of patients who died was significantly higher than the median RDW of those who survived (17.4 vs. 15.5%; P<0.001). The percentage of patients who died significantly increased across different RDW quartiles (6.8, 9.7, 11.5 and 32.1%, P<0.001). In univariate analysis, significant correlation was observed between RDW and clinical severity of acute decompensate cirrhosis (Child-Pugh score: r=0.198, P<0.001; Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score: r=0.311, P=0.001; CLIF-C AD: 0.127, P=0.005). The combination of RDW and CLIF-C AD score exhibited better performance for predicting 1-month mortality than the CLIF-C AD score alone (area under the curve=0.769 vs. 0.720; P=0.006). In multivariate analysis, RDW was independently associated with a 1.2-2.3 higher risk of 1-month mortality.
Conclusion: The assessment of RDW at ED admission may improve risk stratification of patients with acute decompensation of cirrhosis.