Comparison of YEARS and Adjust-Unlikely D-dimer Testing for Pulmonary Embolism in the Emergency Department

Ann Emerg Med. 2023 May;81(5):558-565. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2022.09.014. Epub 2022 Nov 10.


Study objective: We prospectively assessed the diagnostic accuracy of YEARS and a modified age-adjusted clinical decision rule ("Adjust-Unlikely") for pulmonary embolism (PE) testing in the emergency department.

Methods: This study was conducted in tertiary care Canadian emergency departments. When the D-dimer was <500 ng/ml, PE was excluded. Pulmonary imaging for PE was performed when the D-dimer was ≥500 ng/ml. Patients were followed for 30 days, and PE outcomes were independently adjudicated. Physicians systematically recorded the presence or absence of YEARS items (PE most likely, hemoptysis, signs of deep venous thrombosis) prior to D-dimer testing and imaging. We analyzed the diagnostic accuracy of YEARS and the "Adjust-Unlikely" rule. Age adjustment (age x 10 in those >50 years old) was applied in patients where PE was not the most likely diagnosis and 500 ng/ml threshold when PE was most likely.

Results: One thousand seven hundred three patients were included, median age 62 (50, 74), 58% female, PE prevalence 8.0%. YEARS sensitivity for PE diagnosis was 92.6% (87.0, 96.0%) and specificity 45.0% (42.5, 47.5%). Adjust-Unlikely sensitivity was 100.0% (97.2, 100.0%) and specificity 32.4% (30.1, 34.8%). Posttest probability of PE in the group of patients with PE excluded by D-dimer between 500 ng/ml and the adjusted limit was 2.8% (1.6, 5.1%) for YEARS and 0.0% (0.0, 2.6%) for the "Adjust-Unlikely" rule.

Conclusion: The "Adjust-Unlikely" rule would modestly reduce imaging and identify all cases of PE. YEARS would substantially reduce imaging but miss 1 in 14 cases of PE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pulmonary Embolism* / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Embolism* / epidemiology


  • fibrin fragment D
  • Fibrin Fibrinogen Degradation Products