Rapid quantitative D
-dimer to exclude pulmonary embolism: a prospective cohort management study
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UNLABELLED: ESSENTIALS: It is not known if D-dimer testing alone can safely exclude pulmonary embolism (PE). We studied the safety of using a quantitative latex agglutination D-dimer to exclude PE in 808 patients. 52% of patients with suspected PE had a negative D-dimer test and were followed for 3 months. The negative predictive value of D-dimer testing alone was 99.8%, suggesting it may safely exclude PE. SUMMARY: BACKGROUND: Strategies are needed to exclude pulmonary embolism (PE) efficiently without the need for imaging tests. Although validated rules for clinical probability assessment can be combined with D-dimer testing to safely exclude PE, the rules can be complicated or partially subjective, which limits their use. OBJECTIVES: To determine if PE can be safely excluded in patients with a negative D-dimer without incorporating clinical probability assessment. PATIENTS/METHODS: We enrolled consecutive outpatients and inpatients with suspected PE from four tertiary care hospitals. All patients underwent D-dimer testing using the MDA D-dimer test, a quantitative latex agglutination assay. PE was excluded in patients with a D-dimer less than 750 μg FEU L(-1) without further testing. PATIENTS: with D-dimer levels of 750 μg FEU L(-1) or higher underwent standardized imaging tests for PE. All patients in whom PE was excluded had anticoagulant therapy withheld and were followed for 3 months for venous thromboembolism (VTE). Suspected events during follow-up were adjudicated centrally. RESULTS: Eight hundred and eight patients were enrolled, of whom 99 (12%) were diagnosed with VTE at presentation. Four hundred and twenty (52%) patients had a negative D-dimer level at presentation and were not treated with anticoagulants; of these, one had VTE during follow-up. The negative predictive value of D-dimer testing for PE was 99.8% (95% confidence interval, 98.7-99.9%). CONCLUSIONS: A negative latex agglutination D-dimer assay is seen in about one-half of patients with suspected PE and reliably excludes PE as a stand-alone test.
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