Diagnosing pulmonary embolism in outpatients with clinical assessment, D-dimer measurement, venous ultrasound, and helical computed tomography: a multicenter management study

Arnaud Perrier, Pierre-Marie Roy, Drahomir Aujesky, Isabelle Chagnon, Nigel Howarth, Anne-Laurence Gourdier, Georges Leftheriotis, Ghassan Barghouth, Jacques Cornuz, Daniel Hayoz, Henri Bounameaux
American Journal of Medicine 2004 March 1, 116 (5): 291-9

PURPOSE: To evaluate a diagnostic strategy for pulmonary embolism that combined clinical assessment, plasma D-dimer measurement, lower limb venous ultrasonography, and helical computed tomography (CT).

METHODS: A cohort of 965 consecutive patients presenting to the emergency departments of three general and teaching hospitals with clinically suspected pulmonary embolism underwent sequential noninvasive testing. Clinical probability was assessed by a prediction rule combined with implicit judgment. All patients were followed for 3 months.

RESULTS: A normal D-dimer level (<500 microg/L by a rapid enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) ruled out venous thromboembolism in 280 patients (29%), and finding a deep vein thrombosis by ultrasonography established the diagnosis in 92 patients (9.5%). Helical CT was required in only 593 patients (61%) and showed pulmonary embolism in 124 patients (12.8%). Pulmonary embolism was considered ruled out in the 450 patients (46.6%) with a negative ultrasound and CT scan and a low-to-intermediate clinical probability. The 8 patients with a negative ultrasound and CT scan despite a high clinical probability proceeded to pulmonary angiography (positive: 2; negative: 6). Helical CT was inconclusive in 11 patients (pulmonary embolism: 4; no pulmonary embolism: 7). The overall prevalence of pulmonary embolism was 23%. Patients classified as not having pulmonary embolism were not anticoagulated during follow-up and had a 3-month thromboembolic risk of 1.0% (95% confidence interval: 0.5% to 2.1%).

CONCLUSION: A noninvasive diagnostic strategy combining clinical assessment, D-dimer measurement, ultrasonography, and helical CT yielded a diagnosis in 99% of outpatients suspected of pulmonary embolism, and appeared to be safe, provided that CT was combined with ultrasonography to rule out the disease.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article


You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.


Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"