D-dimers are not always elevated in patients with acute aortic dissection

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In patients with acute aortic dissection, an early diagnosis is essential to anticipate aortic rupture, cardiac tamponade, organ ischemia and improve surgical results. A specific blood laboratory marker able to rule out the presence of aortic dissection has not been identified yet. Recently, several studies suggested using D-dimers as a negative predicting test to rule out diagnosis of acute aortic dissection in patients presenting with chest pain. In 61 patients with confirmed aortic dissection, preoperative D-dimers were assayed and correlated with time from symptom onset and extension of the false lumen dissection (according with De Bakey classification). Abnormal D-dimers values were considered those being greater than 400 μg/l. D-dimers values were above 400 μg/l in 50 patients (82%) and below 400 μg/l in 11 patients (18%). There was no correlation between preoperative D-dimers values and time from symptoms onset (r = −0.232; P = 0.1). We found that D-dimers are not always elevated in patients presenting with acute aortic dissection. Given the potential devastating effects of denying the diagnosis of acute aortic dissection with consequent delay of adequate treatment, a word of caution regarding the negative predictive value of D-dimer test in the diagnosis of aortic dissection seems warranted.

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