Diagnosis of acute aortic syndromes with ultrasound and d-dimer: the PROFUNDUS study

Eur J Intern Med. 2024 Jun 12:S0953-6205(24)00234-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2024.05.029. Online ahead of print.


Background: In patients complaining common symptoms such as chest/abdominal/back pain or syncope, acute aortic syndromes (AAS) are rare underlying causes. AAS diagnosis requires urgent advanced aortic imaging (AAI), mostly computed tomography angiography. However, patient selection for AAI poses conflicting risks of misdiagnosis and overtesting.

Objectives: We assessed the safety and efficiency of a diagnostic protocol integrating clinical data with point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) and d-dimer (single/age-adjusted cutoff), to select patients for AAI.

Methods: This prospective study involved 12 Emergency Departments from 5 countries. POCUS findings were integrated with a guideline-compliant clinical score, to define the integrated pre-test probability (iPTP) of AAS. If iPTP was high, urgent AAI was requested. If iPTP was low and d-dimer was negative, AAS was ruled out. Patients were followed for 30 days, to adjudicate outcomes.

Results: Within 1979 enrolled patients, 176 (9 %) had an AAS. POCUS led to net reclassification improvement of 20 % (24 %/-4 % for events/non-events, P < 0.001) over clinical score alone. Median time to AAS diagnosis was 60 min if POCUS was positive vs 118 if negative (P = 0.042). Within 941 patients satisfying rule-out criteria, the 30-day incidence of AAS was 0 % (95 % CI, 0-0.41 %); without POCUS, 2 AAS were potentially missed. Protocol rule-out efficiency was 48 % (95 % CI, 46-50 %) and AAI was averted in 41 % of patients. Using age-adjusted d-dimer, rule-out efficiency was 54 % (difference 6 %, 95 % CI, 4-9 %, vs standard cutoff).

Conclusions: The integrated algorithm allowed rapid triage of high-probability patients, while providing safe and efficient rule-out of AAS. Age-adjusted d-dimer maximized efficiency.

Clinical trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov, NCT04430400.

Keywords: Aorta; Diagnosis; Dissection; Probability; Score; Ultrasound; d-dimer.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04430400