Simplifying the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism

Simon J McRae and John W Eikelboom
Med J Aust 2007; 187 (6): . || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2007.tb01272.x
Published online: 17 September 2007

Combining clinical diagnostic scoring with D-dimer analysis

Venous thromboembolism (VTE) occurs in one to two people per 1000 annually in Caucasian populations.1 About a third of these patients will have symptomatic pulmonary embolism (PE), which is associated with a mortality rate of about 30% if left untreated.2 Anticoagulant therapy is highly effective for preventing death in patients with symptomatic PE,3 but causes major bleeding in 2% of patients during the first 3 months. The mortality rate among patients who suffer major bleeding is about 10%.4 Accurate diagnosis is thus critical to ensure that patients with PE receive effective treatment and that patients without PE do not receive unnecessary anticoagulant therapy, with its associated risks and inconvenience.

  • Simon J McRae1
  • John W Eikelboom2

  • 1 Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, Adelaide, SA.
  • 2 Thrombosis Service, Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.



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