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O'Brien, MMC;McLoughlin, JM;Mulkerrin, EC
Journal Of Nutrition Health & Aging
Opportunistic Diagnosis of Extensive Pulmonary Embolus Following "COVID-19 Blood Battery" in Very Frail Older Patients
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D-dimer is routinely measured to exclude the diagnosis of venous thromboembolism and is its main biomarker. Appropriate age-adjusted D-dimer testing improves D-dimer specificity, could decrease inappropriate CT pulmonary angiograms in the older person, and prevent unnecessary radiation exposure. A "COVID-19 blood battery", designed to increase the efficiency of evaluation of COVID-19 suspected patients is used in our institution. It includes D-dimers which are elevated in COVID-19 infections and potentially an index of severe infection. These 3 very frail patients presented late to the emergency department, all acutely and non-specifically unwell, with high prevalence of comorbidities and were transferred in by ambulance. They were triaged to the COVID-19 pathway of our hospital, and subsequently had negative COVID-19 swabs. All had an incidental finding of markedly elevated D-dimers, with potential causes of their symptoms other than pulmonary embolus. They were transferred to an acute geriatric ward specifically designated to manage older patients (>75years) who had negative nasopharyngeal swab results. They were all ultimately diagnosed with extensive pulmonary emboli with evidence of raised pulmonary pressures on CTPA and/or echocardiogram. It is possible that these patients had false negative COVID-19 swabs. Allowing for the novel nature of COVID-19, prospective evaluation for new symptoms and complications such as thromboembolic disease in those affected by milder symptoms should be considered. In the absence of clinical improvement following treatment of other conditions in frail older patients, D-dimer testing could be indicated with pursuit of specific diagnostic evaluation for venous thromboembolism when significantly elevated.
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