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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 64  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 150-154

Assessment of the current D-dimer cutoff point in pulmonary embolism workup at a single institution: Retrospective study

1 Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
2 Department of Medicine, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. S Alhassan
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jpgm.JPGM_217_17

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Background: The currently used D-dimer (DD) cutoff point is associated with a large number of negative CT-pulmonary angiographies (CTPA). We hypothesized presence of deficiency in the current cutoff and a need to look for a better DD threshold. Materials and Methods: We conducted a retrospective medical records analysis of all patients who had a CTPA as part of pulmonary embolism (PE) workup over a 1-year period. All emergency room (ER) patients who had DD assay checked prior to CTPA were included in the analysis. We assessed our institutional cutoff point and tried to test other presumptive DD thresholds retrospectively. Results: At our institution 1591 CTPA were performed in 2014, with 1220 scans (77%) performed in the ER. DD test was ordered prior to CTPA imaging in 238 ER patients (19.5%) as part of the PE workup. PE was diagnosed in 14 cases (6%). The sensitivity and specificity of the currently used DD cutoff (0.5 mcg/mL) were found to be 100% and 13%, respectively. Shifting the cutoff value from 0.5 to 0.85 mcg/mL would result in a significant increase in the specificity from 13% to 51% while maintaining the same sensitivity of 100%. This would make theoretically 84 CTPA scans, corresponding to 35% of CTPA imaging, unnecessary because DD would be considered negative based on this presumptive threshold. Conclusions: Our results suggest a significant deficiency in the institutional DD cutoff point with the need to find a better threshold through a large multicenter prospective trial to minimize unnecessary CTPA scans and to improve patient safety.


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Online since 12th February '04
2004 - Journal of Postgraduate Medicine
Official Publication of the Staff Society of the Seth GS Medical College and KEM Hospital, Mumbai, India
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow