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Arch Intern Med. 2002 Apr 22;162(8):907-11.

Simplification of the diagnostic management of suspected deep vein thrombosis.

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Department of Vascular Medicine, Academic Medical Center, Meibergdreef 9, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



The standard diagnostic approach in patients with suspected deep vein thrombosis is to repeat the compression ultrasonography after 1 week in all patients with an initial normal result. We hypothesized that a normal finding of a D-dimer assay safely obviates the need for repeated ultrasonography. In addition, we evaluated the potential value of a pretest probability assessment for this purpose.


At presentation, consecutive outpatients with suspected thrombosis underwent independent assessment by means of ultrasonography of the proximal veins, a whole-blood D-dimer assay, and a pretest clinical model. Patients with normal ultrasonographic findings and an abnormal D-dimer assay result were scheduled for repeated ultrasonography. We evaluated the incidence of symptomatic venous thromboembolic complications during a 3-month follow-up, and the value of clinical pretest probability with ultrasonography or D-dimer assay in scenario analyses.


We studied 1756 patients with prevalence of thrombosis of 22%. At entry, results of the D-dimer assay and ultrasonography were normal in 828 patients (47%). Of these, 6 returned with confirmed symptomatic venous thromboembolism (complication rate, 0.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.3%-1.6%). Repeated ultrasonography was avoided in 61% of the patients with an initial normal test result. Scenario analyses disclosed that the complication rate was 1.6% (95% CI, 0.8%-2.6%) in those with a low clinical pretest probability and a normal result of ultrasonography at referral, whereas this figure was 1.8% (95% CI, 0.9%-3.3%) in patients with a low clinical probability result and a normal result of the D-dimer assay at referral.


It is safe to withhold repeated ultrasonography in patients with suspected deep vein thrombosis who have normal results of ultrasonograpy and the SimpliRED D-dimer assay at presentation. The combination of a low clinical pretest probability with a normal result of compression ultrasonography or the D-dimer assay appears to be equally safe in refuting the diagnosis of deep vein thrombosis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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