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J Emerg Med. 2008 May;34(4):367-76. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2007.06.030. Epub 2008 Jan 18.

Serum D-dimer is a sensitive test for the detection of acute aortic dissection: a pooled meta-analysis.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Acute aortic dissection is a rare but devastating condition with high mortality. Unfortunately, there is no sensitive screening indicator of disease in common use. The objective of this study was to assess the sensitivity and utility of the serum D-dimer as a test for acute aortic dissection. A pooled analysis was performed of all original research studies testing the sensitivity of serum D-dimer for acute aortic dissection. A search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Register using the terms "aortic dissection" and "d-dimer" was made of all English language publications. All original reports of consecutively enrolled patients with acute aortic dissection and a measured serum D-dimer were included. Case reports were excluded. A value of 0.5 microgram per milliliter was defined as the threshold for a positive D-dimer. The primary outcome was the pooled sensitivity of the D-dimer test for acute aortic dissection. There were 21 original reports of patients with acute aortic dissection and D-dimer measurements. Eleven studies were included and a total of 349 acute aortic dissection patients were described. The sensitivity of the D-dimer test was 327/349, 94% (95% confidence interval 91-96), and the point estimate was essentially unchanged in a sensitivity analysis, 183/192, 95% (95% confidence interval 91-98). Specificity ranged from 40% to 100%. Serum D-dimer is sensitive for acute aortic dissection and potentially represents a useful test for patients who present with a low likelihood of this disease.

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