D-dimer: Simple test, tough problems

John D. Olson, Mark T. Cunningham, Russell A. Higgins, Charles S. Eby, John T. Brandt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Context.-D-dimer is widely used for exclusion, or as an aid in diagnosis, of venous thromboembolism (VTE); however, the D-dimer assay methods available from manufacturers and the laboratory application of those methods vary widely. Objective.-To describe the current laboratory practice regarding the assay and reporting of D-dimer. Design.-Laboratories' D-dimer proficiency testing data were analyzed and laboratory practices regarding the performance and reporting of D-dimer were surveyed. Results.-Initial grading of D-dimer proficiency testing demonstrated high variability within and among methods. This variability continued to be present for several years after attempts to intervene. The number of laboratories using D-dimer to exclude VTE grew from 1500 in 2004 to more than 3500 in 2012. Survey and proficiency testing data demonstrated that 33% of laboratories changed the type or magnitude of units from that recommended by the manufacturer, a practice associated with as much as a 20- fold increase in the failure of proficiency testing. Many laboratories used a threshold for the exclusion of VTE that is higher than that recommended by the manufacturer. Many laboratories continue to use qualitative assays with insufficient sensitivity for exclusion of VTE. Conclusions.-There is considerable variability both within and among quantitative methods used to assay Ddimer by laboratories. Laboratory practice continues to vary widely regarding the type and magnitude of units reported and the setting of the threshold for the exclusion of VTE. Although improved, the variability continues despite initial efforts to intervene.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1030-1038
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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