D-dimer is a soluble fibrin degradation product that results from ordered breakdown of thrombi by the fibrinolytic system. Numerous studies have shown that D-dimer serves as a valuable marker of activation of coagulation and fibrinolysis. Consequently, D-dimer has been extensively investigated for the diagnosis of venous thromboembolism (VTE) and is used routinely for this indication. In addition, D-dimer has been evaluated for determining the optimal duration of anticoagulation in VTE patients, for diagnosing and monitoring disseminated intravascular coagulation, and as an aid in the identification of medical patients at high risk for VTE. Thus, quantification of D-dimer levels serves an important role in guiding therapy. This review: 1) describes how D-dimer is generated; 2) reviews the assays used for its detection; and 3) discusses the role of D-dimer determination in these various conditions.
Keywords: D-dimer; deep-vein thrombosis; disseminated intravascular coagulation; pulmonary embolism; venous thromboembolism.
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