COMPARATIVE STUDY
JOURNAL ARTICLE

A highly sensitive ELISA D-dimer increases testing but not diagnosis of pulmonary embolism

Christopher Kabrhel, Christina Matts, Mariah McNamara, Jeremy Katz, Thomas Ptak
Academic Emergency Medicine 2006, 13 (5): 519-24
16551779

OBJECTIVES: To determine the effect of introducing a rapid enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) D-dimer on the percentage of emergency department (ED) patients evaluated for pulmonary embolism (PE), the use of associated laboratory testing, pulmonary vascular imaging, and the diagnoses of PE.

METHODS: Patients evaluated for PE during three 120-day periods were enrolled: immediately before (period 1), immediately after (period 2), and one year after the introduction of a rapid ELISA D-dimer in the hospital. The frequency of ED patients evaluated for PE with any test, with D-dimer testing, and with pulmonary vascular imaging and the frequency of PE diagnosis during each time period were determined.

RESULTS: The percentage of patients evaluated for PE nearly doubled; from 1.36% (328/24,101) in period 1 to 2.58% (654/25,318) in period 2 and 2.42% (583/24,093) in period 3. The percentage of patients who underwent D-dimer testing increased more than fourfold; from 0.39% (93/24,101) in period 1 to 1.83% (464/25,318) in period 2 and 1.77% (427/24,093) in period 3. The percentage of patients who underwent pulmonary vascular imaging increased from 1.02% (247/24,101) in period 1 to 1.36% (344/25,318) in period 2 and to 1.39% (334/24,093) in period 3. There was no difference in the percentage of patients diagnosed as having PE in period 1 (0.20% [47/24,101]), period 2 (0.27% [69/25,318]), and period 3 (0.24% [58/24,093]).

CONCLUSIONS: In the study's academic ED, introduction of ELISA D-dimer testing was accompanied by an increase in PE evaluations, D-dimer testing, and pulmonary vascular imaging; there was no observed change in the rate of PE diagnosis.

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