JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Exclusion and diagnosis of pulmonary embolism by a rapid ELISA D-dimer test and noninvasive imaging techniques within the context of a clinical model

J J Michiels, P M Pattynama
Clinical and Applied Thrombosis/hemostasis 2000, 6 (1): 46-52
10726049
A negative rapid ELISA D-dimer test alone in out-patients with a low to moderate clinical probability (CP) on pulmonary embolism (PE) is predicted to safely exclude pulmonary embolism. The combination of a negative rapid ELISA D-dimer test and a low to moderate CP on PE followed by compression ultrasonography (CUS) for the detection of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is safe and cost-effective as it reduces the need for noninvasive imaging techniques to about 50% to 60% of outpatients with suspected PE. A high probability ventilation-perfusion (VP) scan or a positive spiral CT consistent with PE and the detection of DVT by CUS are currently considered to be clear indications for anticoagulant treatment. Subsequent pulmonary angiography (PA) is the gold standard diagnostic strategy to exclude or diagnose PE in suspected outpatients with a negative CUS, a positive rapid ELISA D-dimer test, and a nondiagnostic VP scan or negative spiral CT to prevent overtreatment with anticoagulants. However, the willingness of clinicians and the availability of resources to perform PA is restricted, a fact that has provided an impetus for clinical investigators to search for alternative noninvasive strategies to exclude or detect venous thromboembolism (VTE). Serial CUS testing for the detection of DVT in patients with a low to moderate CP on PE and a nondiagnostic VP scan or negative spiral CT is predicted to be safe and will reduce the need for PA to less than 10% or even less than 5%. This noninvasive serial CUS strategy restricts the need for invasive PA to a minor group of patients (< 5%) with the combination of a low CP on PE and high probability VP scan or the combination of a nondiagnostic VP scan or negative spiral CT and a high CP on PE. Prospective evaluations are warranted to implement and to validate the advantages and the disadvantages of the various combinations of noninvasive strategies and to compare serial CUS testing versus PA in randomized clinical management studies of outpatients with suspected pulmonary embolism.

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