Background: Several clinical decision rules (CDRs) are available to exclude acute pulmonary embolism (PE), but they have not been directly compared.
Objective: To directly compare the performance of 4 CDRs (Wells rule, revised Geneva score, simplified Wells rule, and simplified revised Geneva score) in combination with d-dimer testing to exclude PE.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: 7 hospitals in the Netherlands.
Patients: 807 consecutive patients with suspected acute PE.
Intervention: The clinical probability of PE was assessed by using a computer program that calculated all CDRs and indicated the next diagnostic step. Results of the CDRs and d-dimer tests guided clinical care.
Measurements: Results of the CDRs were compared with the prevalence of PE identified by computed tomography or venous thromboembolism at 3-month follow-up.
Results: Prevalence of PE was 23%. The proportion of patients categorized as PE-unlikely ranged from 62% (simplified Wells rule) to 72% (Wells rule). Combined with a normal d-dimer result, the CDRs excluded PE in 22% to 24% of patients. The total failure rates of the CDR and d-dimer combinations were similar (1 failure, 0.5% to 0.6% [upper-limit 95% CI, 2.9% to 3.1%]). Even though 30% of patients had discordant CDR outcomes, PE was not detected in any patient with discordant CDRs and a normal d-dimer result.
Limitation: Management was based on a combination of decision rules and d-dimer testing rather than only 1 CDR combined with d-dimer testing.
Conclusion: All 4 CDRs show similar performance for exclusion of acute PE in combination with a normal d-dimer result. This prospective validation indicates that the simplified scores may be used in clinical practice.
Primary Funding Source: Academic Medical Center, VU University Medical Center, Rijnstate Hospital, Leiden University Medical Center, Maastricht University Medical Center, Erasmus Medical Center, and Maasstad Hospital.