A high red cell distribution width has been associated with serious complications after congenital heart surgery for children, according to the National Institutes of Health. RDW is a parameter that measures variation in red blood cell size or red blood cell volume, according to MedScape.
The findings indicating serious complications after congenital heart surgery were based on a study involving 688 children who consecutively underwent surgery for congenital heart problems. The study of these pediatric-cardiac patients found that patients with a higher RDW had a higher morbidity rate during their postoperative stays. The patients with the higher RDW were up to five times more likely to die during their postoperative stay than their counterparts. In addition, the patients whose preoperative RDW was high spent more time in intensive care after surgery. These same patients had a longer postoperative stay than the patients who had a normal RDW, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The RDW is an effective predictor of the possibility of congenital heart surgery for pediatric patients to have unfavorable results, including the possibility of death. It is even more so the case in patients not suffering from anemia, states the National Institutes of Health. A high RDW in nonanemic patients indicates underlying inflammatory stress. Inflammatory stress makes the possibility for adverse postoperative complications much higher.