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Acad Emerg Med. 2001 Feb;8(2):103-6.

Role of the peripheral intravenous catheter in false-positive D-dimer testing.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC, USA.



To determine whether inserting a peripheral intravenous catheter (IV) can significantly increase the circulating D-dimer concentration.


Twenty healthy young adult volunteers underwent cannulation of an antecubital vein with a 20-gauge Teflon IV. Time 0 venous blood was drawn during IV insertion. The IV was salinelocked and left in place for 90 minutes, at which time a second venipuncture was performed in a contralateral antecubital vein (+90 min). A qualitative D-dimer assay [erythrocyte-agglutination assay, SimpliRED (SRDD)] and a quantitative spectrophotometric assay [enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (EIA), Dimertest Gold] were performed on all samples. Time 0 means (+/-SD) were compared with +90 min means by paired t-test, and SRDD pairs were compared with McNemar's test.


Time 0 initial venipuncture blood samples yielded a mean D-dimer concentration of 15 +/- 24 ng/mL, with 2/20 SRDD tests read as positive (95% CI = 1% to 32%). At +90 min, the D-dimer concentration was 33 +/- 21 ng/mL (p = 0.04 vs time 0), with 5/20 SRDD tests read as positive (95% CI = 9% to 49%, p = 0.248).


Insertion of an IV increased the circulating D-dimer concentration (determined by EIA), but did not lead to a significant increase in false-positive conversion of the SRDD. An effort should be made to perform D-dimer testing on "first-stick" blood to optimize specificity. However, a strongly positive D-dimer reaction cannot be ascribed to the presence of an IV.

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