Accuracy and usefulness of a clinical prediction rule and D-dimer testing in excluding deep vein thrombosis in cancer patients
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INTRODUCTION: Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can be safely and reliably excluded in patients with a low clinical probability and a negative D-dimer result but the accuracy and utility of such a strategy is less certain in cancer patients. We sought to compare the performance of the Wells pretest probability (PTP) model and D-dimer testing between patients with and without cancer and to examine the utility of the two PTP model classification schemes (low/moderate/high versus unlikely/likely) in excluding DVT in patients with cancer. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Pooled analysis of databases from three prospective diagnostic studies evaluating consecutive outpatients with suspected DVT. RESULTS: A total of 2696 patients were evaluated. DVT was diagnosed in 403 (15%) patients overall and in 83 of 200 (41.5%) cancer patients. The PTP distribution and the prevalence of DVT in each PTP category were significantly different between patients with and without cancer, regardless of the classification used (p<0.01). In patients with cancer, the negative predictive values of a low or unlikely PTP score in combination with a negative D-dimer result were 100% (95% CI 69.8%-100%) and 100% (95% CI 82.8%-96.6%), respectively. However, the specificities ranged from 46.2% (95%CI 27.1%-66.3%) to 57.1% (95%CI 41.1%-71.9%). Further testing was required in 94% of cancer patients using the low/moderate/high PTP classification and in 88% using the unlikely/likely stratification. CONCLUSIONS: As in patients without cancer, the combination of a low or unlikely PTP with a negative D-dimer result can exclude DVT in patients with cancer. However, this strategy has limited utility because very few cancer patients present with this combination.
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