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Int J Emerg Med. 2018 Mar 5;11(1):10. doi: 10.1186/s12245-018-0169-8.

The diagnostic utility of D-dimer and other clinical variables in pregnant and post-partum patients with suspected acute pulmonary embolism.

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Emergency Department, University Hospital Lewisham, Lewisham High Street, London, UK.
St George's School of Medicine, University of London, Cranmer Terrace, London, SW17 0RE, UK.



Pulmonary embolism (PE) during pregnancy remains one of the leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality in the developed world. However, there is a paucity of high-quality evidence resulting in a lack of consensus in managing this group of patients. The aims of the study were to address the diagnostic utility of D-dimer for suspected PE in pregnant and post-partum patients and to identify any clinical presentation variables that are predictors of PE in this group of patients.


A retrospective case note review of 152 pregnant and post-partum patients who underwent diagnostic imaging (ventilation/perfusion (V/Q) or computed tomographic pulmonary angiography (CTPA)) for suspected PE at a tertiary teaching hospital from 2007 to 2011 was conducted. The reference range for D-dimer was less than 0.5 mg/L as being normal. The following variables were also assessed in terms of their predictive capability for PE diagnosis in pregnancy: heart rate (HR), mean arterial pressure (MAP), shock index (SI) and A-a gradient.


The application of D-dimer testing for suspected PE in this study population had a sensitivity of 100% (95% CI, 73-100%), specificity of 42% (95% CI, 31-53%) and a likelihood negative ratio of 0. None of the clinical variables were significant predictors of PE according to regression analyses.


There is supportive evidence that a negative D-dimer result is useful as a means of ruling out PE in pregnant and post-partum patients. However, we need a larger prospective observational study to collaborate the findings.


D-dimer; Post-partum; Pregnancy; Pulmonary embolism

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