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Red blood cell distribution width

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Human red blood cells

Human red blood cells

The red blood cell distribution width, RDW, or RCDW is a measure of the variation of red blood cell (RBC) width that is reported as part of a standard complete blood count. Usually red blood cells are a standard size of about 6-8μ m. Certain disorders, however, cause a significant variation in cell size. Higher RDW values indicate greater variation in size. Normal reference range in human red blood cells is 11 - 15%. If anemia is observed, RDW test results are often used together with mean corpuscular volume (MCV) results to determine the possible causes of the

anemia. It is mainly used to differentiate an anemia of mixed causes from an anemia of

a single cause. Vitamin B 12 deficiency produces a macrocytic anemia (large cell

anemia )with a normal RDW. However, iron deficiency anemia initially presents with a varied size distribution of red blood cells, and as such shows an increased RDW. In the case of a mixed iron and

B 12 deficiency, there will normally be a mix of both large cells and small cells, causing the RDW to be elevated. An

elevated RDW, that is red blood cells of unequal sizes, is known as anisocytosis. [1]

Calculations

The "width" in RDW is sometimes thought of as "misleading," since it in fact is a measure of deviation of the volume of RBCs, and not directly the diameter. However, "width" refers to the width of the volume curve (distribution width), not the width of the cells. Thus, it is a reasonably accurate term. [2][3]

Mathematically the RDW is calculated with the following formula:

RDW = (Standard deviation of MCV ÷ mean MCV) × 100. [4]

See also

deviation of MCV ÷ mean MCV) × 100 . [ 4 ] See also Reference ranges

Reference ranges for blood tests

References

1. ^ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1955687

2. ^ Pomeranian Medical University > Red blood cell indices (indexes) (http://www.ams.edu.pl/files/File/wronog/Metodyki-unit_4c.pdf) Retrieved on 5 April, 2009

3. ^ Cornell University, Department of Population Medicine & Diagnostic Sciences > Red Cell Distribution Width (RDW) (http://diaglab.vet.cornell.edu/clinpath/modules/hemogram/rdw.htm) Last Updated: June 2000. Retrieved on

5 April, 2009

4. ^ Encyclopedia of Surgery: A Guide for Patients and Caregivers Red blood cell indices (http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/Pa-St/Red-Blood-Cell-Indices.html) Retrieved on 5 April, 2009

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