The value of D-dimer testing for the diagnosis of thrombosis in unusual sites is not properly established and evidence is scarce. We performed a systematic review of the literature.
The search was conducted in MEDLINE and Cochrane Library for papers published in the last 10 years including different presentations of thrombosis in unusual sites. Twenty-three articles were included, from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2018, comprising 3378 patients with thrombosis in unusual sites (upper extremity deep vein thrombosis, cerebral vein thrombosis and splanchnic vein thrombosis). The Newcastle-Ottawa scale was used to assess the quality of the studies.
Two articles were related to upper extremity thrombosis, showing a high sensitivity and negative predictive value for D-dimer testing. Twelve articles concerned cerebral vein thrombosis, concluding that the timing of D-dimer testing was important, and that patients with a shorter duration of symptoms showed higher D-dimer levels. Sensitivity and specificity in these patients ranged from 58% to 97% and from 77% to 97.5%, respectively. Nine articles were related to splanchnic vein thrombosis. One described a population of patients with mesenteric venous thrombosis, and the rest included patients with portal vein thrombosis. The D-dimer testing methods and the proposed cut-off levels were remarkably different among the included studies.
D-dimer testing should not be currently recommended for the diagnosis of thrombosis in unusual sites as a first line diagnostic tool. The development of algorithms combining biomarkers such as D-dimer and clinical decision tools could improve the diagnosis.

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