Qualitative point-of-care D-dimer testing compared with quantitative D-dimer testing in excluding pulmonary embolism in primary care

W.A.M. Lucassen*, P.M.G. Erkens, G.J. Geersing, H.R. Büller, K.G.M. Moons, H.E.J.H. Stoffers, H.C.P.M. van Weert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BackgroundGeneral practitioners can safely exclude pulmonary embolism (PE) by using the Wells PE rule combined with D-dimer testing.

ObjectiveTo compare the accuracy of a strategy using the Wells rule combined with either a qualitative point-of-care (POC) D-dimer test performed in primary care or a quantitative laboratory-based D-dimer test.

MethodsWe used data from a prospective cohort study including 598 adults suspected of PE in primary care in the Netherlands. General practitioners scored the Wells rule and carried out a qualitative POC test. All patients were referred to hospital for reference testing. We obtained quantitative D-dimer test results as performed in hospital laboratories. The primary outcome was the prevalence of venous thromboembolism in low-risk patients.

ResultsPrevalence of PE was 12.2%. POC D-dimer test results were available in 582 patients (97%). Quantitative test results were available in 401 patients (67%). We imputed results in 197 patients. The quantitative test and POC test missed one (0.4%) and four patients (1.5%), respectively, with a negative strategy (Wells 4 points and D-dimer test negative) (P=0.20). The POC test could exclude 23 more patients (4%) (P=0.05). The sensitivity and specificity of the Wells rule combined with a POC test were 94.5% and 51.0% and, combined with a quantitative test, 98.6% and 47.2%, respectively.

ConclusionsCombined with the Wells PE rule, both tests are safe to use in excluding PE. The quantitative test seemed to be safer than the POC test, albeit not statistically significant. The specificity of the POC test was higher, resulting in more patients in whom PE could be excluded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1009
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • bedside testing
  • clinical prediction rule
  • D-dimer
  • primary healthcare
  • pulmonary embolism
  • RULE

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