Rapid Systematic Review: Age-Adjusted D-Dimer for Ruling Out Pulmonary Embolism

Bradley E. Barth, Grzegorz Waligora, Gary M. Gaddis

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate

3 Scopus citations


Background: Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a disease diagnosed relatively frequently in emergency departments (EDs). Evidence suggests that improved decision making may decrease inappropriate testing, unnecessary radiation exposure, and non-beneficial treatment. Several studies have looked at the utility and safety of age-adjusting the D-dimer levels used to safely rule out PE. Objective: This rapid systematic review sought to answer the question: Can an age-adjusted D-dimer be used to safely rule out PE in patients over 50 years old? Methods: We performed a structured review of PubMed from January 2012 to January 2018 limited to reports involving human subjects and written in the English language and containing relevant keywords. The highest-quality studies were then reviewed in a structured format. Results: One hundred and eleven papers were identified for further review. Eight articles were determined to be appropriate for inclusion in this summary. These studies all used patient age (in years over 50) × 10 μg/L (fibrinogen equivalent units) as their definition of an age-adjusted D-dimer. Conclusions: Age-adjusted D-dimer cutoff values, in combination with a non-high clinical probability, is safe and effective to essentially rule out PE in ED patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-592
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • D-dimer
  • age factors
  • pulmonary embolism

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