The use of a D-dimer assay in patients undergoing CT pulmonary angiography for suspected pulmonary embolus

Clin Radiol. 2002 Jan;57(1):41-6. doi: 10.1053/crad.2001.0740.


Purpose: To assess the ability of a semi-quantitative latex agglutination D-dimer test Accuclot with bedside measurements of arterial oxygen saturation, respiratory and cardiac rates to exclude pulmonary embolism (PE) on computed tomographic pulmonary angiography (CTPA).

Materials and methods: All patients referred to our CT unit for investigation of suspected acute pulmonary embolism were enrolled. Pulse oximetery, respiratory rate, heart rate and blood sampling for D-dimer testing were carried out just before CT. A high resolution CT (HRCT) of the chest was followed by a CT pulmonary angiogram (CTPA). The images were independently interpreted at a workstation with cine-paging and 2D reformation facilities by three consultant radiologists blinded to the clinical and laboratory data. If positive, the level of the most proximal embolus was recorded. Discordant imaging results were re-read collectively and consensus achieved.

Results: A total of 101 patients were enrolled. The CTPA was positive for PE in 28/101 (28%). The D-dimer was positive in 65/101 (65%). Twenty-six patients had a positive CT and positive D-dimer, two a positive CT but negative D-dimer, 39 a negative CT and positive D-dimer, and 34 a negative CT and negative D-dimer. The negative predictive value of the Accuclot D-dimer test for excluding a pulmonary embolus on spiral CT was 0.94. Combining the D-dimer result with pulse oximetry (normal SaO2 > or = 90%) improved the negative predictive value to 0.97.

Conclusion: A negative Accuclot D-dimer assay proved highly predictive for a negative CT pulmonary angiogram in suspected acute pulmonary embolus. If this D-dimer assay were included in the diagnostic algorithm of these patients a negative D-dimer would have unnecessary CTPA rendered in 36% of patients.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Female
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products / analysis*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Latex Fixation Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Partial Pressure
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pulmonary Artery / diagnostic imaging
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnostic imaging*
  • Pulmonary Embolism / physiopathology
  • Respiration
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Biomarkers
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products
  • fibrin fragment D
  • Oxygen