Background: D-Dimer, a cross-linked fibrin degradation product, has a high sensitivity in patients with suspected venous thrombosis. Traditional latex D-dimer assays, however, have not been sufficiently sensitive to exclude venous thromboembolism.
Methods: To determine the clinical utility of a latex D-dimer assay (MDA D-Dimer; Organon Teknika Corporation, Durham, NC) in patients with suspected venous thromboembolism, we conducted a retrospective cohort study involving 595 unselected patients at 4 tertiary care hospitals. Patients had blood drawn for performance of the D-dimer assay and underwent objective testing for venous thromboembolism. Pretest probability was determined using validated models in 571 patients. Patients were classified as venous thromboembolism positive or negative according to results of objective tests and 3-month follow-up. The sensitivities, specificities, predictive values, and negative likelihood ratios of the assay were calculated for all patients and for subgroups of patients with known cancer or a low, moderate, or high pretest probability of venous thromboembolism.
Results: The prevalence of venous thromboembolism was 19.0% (113/595). Of those who had a pretest probability assessment, 35.9% had a low pretest probability, 49.7% a moderate pretest probability, and 14.4% a high pretest probability. Using a discriminant value of 0.50 microg fibrinogen equivalent units per milliliter, the assay showed an overall sensitivity of 96%, a negative predictive value of 98%, a specificity of 45%, and a negative likelihood ratio of 0.09. In patients with a low or moderate pretest probability, the sensitivity, negative predictive value, and negative likelihood ratio were 97%, 99%, and 0.07, respectively.
Conclusions: The MDA D-Dimer assay is the first latex agglutination assay with sufficient sensitivity to be clinically useful in the exclusion of venous thromboembolism. A negative result has the potential to be used as the sole test to exclude venous thromboembolism in patients with a low or moderate pretest probability of disease.