Using an age-dependent D-dimer cut-off value increases the number of older patients in whom deep vein thrombosis can be safely excluded
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BACKGROUND: D-dimer testing to rule out deep vein thrombosis is less useful in older patients because of a lower specificity. An age-adjusted D-dimer cut-off value increased the proportion of older patients (>50 years) in whom pulmonary embolism could be excluded. We retrospectively validated the efficacy of this cut-off combined with clinical probability for the exclusion of deep vein thrombosis. DESIGN AND METHODS: Five management study cohorts of 2818 consecutive outpatients with suspected deep vein thrombosis were used. Patients with non-high or unlikely probability of deep vein thrombosis were included in the analysis; four different D-dimer tests were used. The proportion of patients with a normal D-dimer test and the failure rates were calculated using the conventional (500 μg/L) and the age-adjusted D-dimer cut-off (patient's age x 10 μg/L in patients >50 years). RESULTS: In 1672 patients with non-high probability, deep vein thrombosis could be excluded in 850 (51%) patients with the age-adjusted cut-off value versus 707 (42%) patients with the conventional cut-off value. The failure rates were 7 (0.8; 95% confidence interval 0.3-1.7%) for the age-adjusted cut-off value and 5 (0.7%, 0.2-1.6%) for the conventional cut-off value. The absolute increase in patients in whom deep vein thrombosis could be ruled out using the age-adjusted cut-off value was largest in patients >70 years: 19% among patients with non-high probability. CONCLUSIONS: The age-adjusted cut-off of the D-dimer combined with clinical probability greatly increases the proportion of older patients in whom deep vein thrombosis can be safely excluded.
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