Practical diagnostic management of patients with clinically suspected deep vein thrombosis by clinical probability test, compression ultrasonography, and D-dimer test

Lidwine W Tick, Evelien Ton, Theo van Voorthuizen, Marcel M C Hovens, Ivonne Leeuwenburgh, Sacha Lobatto, Pieter J Stijnen, Cees van der Heul, Peter M Huisman, Mark H H Kramer, Menno V Huisman
American Journal of Medicine 2002 December 1, 113 (8): 630-5

PURPOSE: To evaluate a new noninvasive diagnostic strategy for ruling out deep vein thrombosis consisting of either a combination of low clinical probability and normal ultrasonography or a combination of moderate-to-high clinical probability, normal ultrasonography, and a normal D-dimer test.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: We studied 811 patients with clinically suspected deep vein thrombosis using a diagnostic management strategy that combined clinical probability, ultrasonography, and measurement of D-dimers. The primary endpoint was venous thromboembolism occurring during a 3-month follow-up.

RESULTS: Of the 280 patients (35%) with a low clinical probability, 30 (11%) had an abnormal initial ultrasonography and were treated. Of the other 250 untreated patients with low clinical probability and a normal ultrasonography, 5 (2%; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1% to 5%) developed a nonfatal venous thromboembolism during follow-up. Of the 531 patients (65%) with a moderate-to-high clinical probability, 300 (56%) had an abnormal ultrasonography. Of the remaining 231 patients with a normal ultrasonography, 148 had a normal D-dimer test; none of these patients developed deep vein thrombosis during follow-up (0%; 95% CI: 0% to 3%). Of the 83 patients with an abnormal D-dimer test, 77 underwent repeat ultrasonography about 1 week later; none of the 64 patients with a second normal ultrasound developed symptomatic deep vein thrombosis during follow-up (0%; 95% CI: 0% to 6%).

CONCLUSIONS: This management strategy, which combines clinical probability, ultrasonography, and D-dimer measurements, is practical and safe in ruling out deep vein thrombosis in patients with clinically suspected thrombosis and reduces the need for repeat ultrasonography.

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