Objectives: To measure the diagnostic accuracy of computerised strain gauge plethysmography in the diagnosis of pulmonary embolism (PE).
Methods: Two researchers prospectively recruited 425 patients with pleuritic chest pain presenting to the emergency department (ED). Lower limb computerised strain gauge plethysmography was performed in the ED. All patients underwent an independent reference standard diagnostic algorithm to establish the presence or absence of PE. A low modified Wells’ clinical probability combined with a normal D-dimer excluded PE. All others required diagnostic imaging with PIOPED interpreted ventilation perfusion scanning and/or computerised tomography (CT) pulmonary angiography. Patients with a nondiagnostic CT had digital subtraction pulmonary angiography. All patients were followed up clinically for 3 months.
Results: The sensitivity of computerised strain gauge plethysmography was 33.3% (95% confidence interval (CI) 16.3 to 56.2%) and specificity 64.1% (95% CI 59.0 to 68.8%). The negative likelihood ratio was 1.04 (95% CI 0.68 to 1.33) and positive likelihood ratio 0.93 (95% CI 0.45 to 1.60).
Conclusions: Lower limb computerised strain gauge plethysmography does not aid in the diagnosis of PE.
- CT, computerised tomography
- DVT, deep vein thrombosis
- ED, emergency department
- PE, pulmonary embolism
- pulmonary embolism
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Pharmacia Limited funded a part time research nurse for 13 months of the study recruitment period. Amtec Medical Limited upgraded the departmental venometer for 11 months of the study.
Competing interests: there are no competing interests.