Performance of the Pulmonary Embolism Rule-out Criteria (the PERC rule) combined with low clinical probability in high prevalence population

Thromb Res. 2012 May;129(5):e189-93. doi: 10.1016/j.thromres.2012.02.016. Epub 2012 Mar 15.


Introduction: PERC rule was created to rule out pulmonary embolism (PE) without further exams, with residual PE risk<2%. Its safety is currently not confirmed in high PE prevalence populations even when combined with low clinical probability assessed by revised Geneva score (RGS). As PERC rule and RGS are 2 similar explicit rules with many redundant criteria, we hypothesized that the combination of PERC rule with gestalt clinical probability could resolve this limitation.

Methods: We collected prospectively documented clinical gestalt assessments and retrospectively calculated PERC rules and RGS from a prospective study of PE suspected patients. We analyzed performance of combinations of negative PERC with low clinical probability assessed by both methods in high overall PE prevalence population.

Results: Among the final study population (n = 959), the overall PE prevalence was 29.8%. Seventy-four patients (7.7%) were classified as PERC negative and among them, 4 patients (5.4%) had final diagnosis of PE. When negative PERC was combined with low pretest probability assessed by RGS or gestalt assessment, PE prevalence was respectively 6.2% and 0%. This last combination reaches threshold target of 2% and unnecessary exams could easily have been avoided in this subgroup (6%). However, it confidence interval was still wide (0%; CI 0-5).

Conclusions: PERC rule combined with low gestalt probability seems to identify a group of patients for whom PE could easily be ruled out without additional test. A larger study is needed to confirm this result and to ensure safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Prevalence
  • Probability
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Embolism / diagnosis*
  • Retrospective Studies