Am J Emerg Med. 2021 Sep 18;50:526-531. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2021.09.004. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: Pulmonary embolism (PE) is a common complication of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Several diagnostic prediction rules based on pretest probability and D-dimer have been validated in non-COVID patients, but it remains unclear if they can be safely applied in COVID-19 patients. We aimed to compare the diagnostic accuracy of the standard approach based on Wells and Geneva scores combined with a standard D-dimer cut-off of 500 ng/mL with three alternative strategies (age-adjusted, YEARS and PEGeD algorithms) in COVID-19 patients.
METHODS: This retrospective study included all COVID-19 patients admitted to the Emergency Department (ED) who underwent computed tomography pulmonary angiography (CTPA) due to PE suspicion. The diagnostic prediction rules for PE were compared between patients with and without PE.
RESULTS: We included 300 patients and PE was confirmed in 15%. No differences were found regarding comorbidities, traditional risk factors for PE and signs and symptoms between patients with and without PE. Wells and Geneva scores showed no predictive value for PE occurrence, whether a standard or an age-adjusted cut-off was considered. YEARS and PEGeD algorithms were associated with increased specificity (19% CTPA reduction) but raising non-diagnosed PE. Despite elevated in all patients, those with PE had higher D-dimer levels. However, incrementing thresholds to select patients for CTPA was also associated with a substantial decrease in sensitivity.
CONCLUSION: None of the diagnostic prediction rules are reliable predictors of PE in COVID-19. Our data favour the use of a D-dimer threshold of 500 ng/mL, considering that higher thresholds increase specificity but limits this strategy as a screening test.