COVID-19 patients have increased risk of pulmonary embolism (PE), but symptoms of both conditions overlap. Because screening algorithms for PE in COVID-19 patients are currently lacking, PE might be underdiagnosed. We evaluated a screening algorithm in which all patients presenting to the ED with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 routinely undergo D-dimer testing, followed by CT pulmonary angiography (CTPA) if D-dimer is ≥ 1.00 mg/L. Consecutive adult patients presenting to the ED of two university hospitals in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, between 01-10-2020 and 31-12-2020, who had a final diagnosis of COVID-19, were retrospectively included. D-dimer and CTPA results were obtained. Of 541 patients with a final diagnosis of COVID-19 presenting to the ED, 25 (4.6%) were excluded because D-dimer was missing, and 71 (13.1%) because they used anticoagulation therapy. Of 445 included patients, 185 (41.6%; 95%CI 37.0-46.3) had a D-dimer ≥ 1.00 mg/L. CTPA was performed in 169 of them, which showed PE in 26 (15.4%; 95%CI 10.3-21.7), resulting in an overall detection rate of 5.8% (95%CI 3.9-8.4) in the complete study group. In patients with and without PE at CTPA, median D-dimer was 9.84 (IQR 3.90-29.38) and 1.64 (IQR 1.17-3.01), respectively (p < 0.001). PE prevalence increased with increasing D-dimer, ranging from 1.2% (95%CI 0.0-6.4) if D-dimer was 1.00-1.99 mg/L, to 48.6% (95%CI 31.4-66.0) if D-dimer was ≥ 5.00 mg/L. In conclusion, by applying this screening algorithm, PE was identified in a considerable proportion of COVID-19 patients. Prospective management studies should assess if this algorithm safely rules-out PE if D-dimer is < 1.00 mg/L.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1068-1073
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis
Issue number4
Early online date23 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Computed tomography angiography
  • D-dimer
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Sensitivity and specificity

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