Utility of an initial D-dimer assay in screening for traumatic or spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage

Mark E. Hoffmann, O. John Ma, Gary Gaddis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objective: To evaluate the sensitivity of a D-dimer assay as a screening tool for possible traumatic or spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage. If adequately sensitive, the D-dimer assay may potentially permit omission of a more expensive computed tomography (CT) scan of the head when such hemorrhage is clinically suspected. Methods: Prospective, consecutive, blinded study of patients (age > 16 years) requiring a CT scan of the head for suspected intracranial hemorrhage over a five-month period at a university, Level I trauma center. All study patients had a serum D-dimer assay obtained prior to their CT scans. Sensitivity and specificity, with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs), of the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) D-dimer assay for the detection of intracranial hemorrhage were calculated. Results: Of the 319 patients entered in the study, 25 (7.8%) had a CT scan positive for intracranial hemorrhage. Patients with intracranial hemorrhage were more likely to have a positive D-dimer assay (chi-square = 13.075, p < 0.001). The D-dimer assay had 21 true-positive and four false-negative tests, resulting in a sensitivity of 84.0% (95% CI = 63.7% to 95.5%) and a specificity of 55.8% (95% CI = 55.5% to 55.9%). The four false-negative cases included one small intraparenchymal hemorrhage, one small subarachnoid hemorrhage, one moderate-sized intraparenchymal hemorrhage with mid-line shift, and one large subdural hematoma requiring emergent surgery. Conclusions: Due to the catastrophic nature of missing an intracranial hemorrhage in the emergency department, the D-dimer assay is not adequately sensitive or predictive to use as a screening tool to allow routine omission of head CT scanning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)859-865
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Emergency Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Computed tomography
  • D-dimer assay
  • Head injury
  • Intracranial hemorrhage


Dive into the research topics of 'Utility of an initial D-dimer assay in screening for traumatic or spontaneous intracranial hemorrhage'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this