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Vasc Endovascular Surg. 2011 Feb;45(2):113-21. doi: 10.1177/1538574410380472. Epub 2010 Aug 31.

Cost-effective diagnostic strategies in patients with a high, intermediate, or low clinical probability of pulmonary embolism.

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  • 1College of Health Sciences, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697, USA.


Rapid quantitative D-dimer assays (DD), lower extremity venous duplex ultrasonography (US), and multislice computed tomographic (CT) angiography have been shown to have adequate sensitivities and specificities for diagnostic purpose. The purpose of this study was to evaluate cost-effectiveness of diagnostic strategies for pulmonary embolism (PE) in patients with a high, intermediate, or low clinical probability of PE. A formal cost-effectiveness analysis for the diagnosis of PE was performed. The main outcome measure for effectiveness was 3-month expected survival. The strategy of DD followed by CT was cost-effective and had the lowest cost per life saved for all patients suspected with PE. The conventional strategy including ventilation and perfusion lung scanning followed by pulmonary angiography (PA) or CT was not cost-effective. The leg US after CT was not also cost-effective. In clinical practice, the individual patient's condition should be considered when choosing appropriate diagnostic tests.

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