Also Known As: Fibrin Degradation Fragment, Fragment D-Dimer
What Is The D-Dimer, Quantitative Test?
A D-dimer test searches for the presence of D-dimer in the bloodstream. Mostly, this test is about ruling out the presence of severe blood clots in the body. These blood clots are harmful and can be fatal for you, so prompt testing and treatment are very important to survive and avoid potential hazards related to other medical issues.
D-dimer is a protein, agent, or substance primarily involved in our body’s overall healing process. When you get an injury or wound that leads to bleeding, the body uses the proteins to clump up the flowing blood. This protein helps form clots and plug the damaged, affected vessels. Once you stop bleeding, the body gradually directs other proteins to break down those lumps or clots. This process results in the formation of D-dimer fragments in the blood. D-dimer, being the protein fragment, dissolves over time. However, if it does not happen, the clots do not break or lead to the formation of other clots; you will have high levels of D-dimer in the body than needed.
Know that blood clotting is a necessary process that helps prevent excessive blood loss during accidents or injuries. Usually, your body will dissolve the clot once it is completely healed. Still, with any existing blood clotting disorder, clots will either form in the body despite any apparent reason or stop dissolving on their own. This condition can be concerning and even life-threatening. Using a D-dimer test, you can know if you have any of these conditions and consult a doctor for an appropriate line of treatment.
What Is The Test Used For?
The main purpose of this test is to rule out your possibility of developing thrombotic episodes and other medical conditions related to it. Anyone can get blood clotting disorders, so healthcare professionals recommend getting a D-Dimer, Quantitative Test to rule out the following conditions:
DVT Or Deep Vein Thrombosis
DVT or deep vein thrombosis is the presence of a blood clot in the body that is deep inside the veins. These clots are often present in deep leg veins and other larger veins running through your calf and thigh muscles. The pelvis or abdomen are some other commonly affected areas. The condition leads to pain and swelling in the legs causing other severe complications like pulmonary embolism.
PE Or Pulmonary Embolism
Pulmonary embolism is the blockage of pulmonary arteries in the lungs. In most cases, it happens due to blood clots that might travel to the lungs from other connecting veins in the legs/other parts of the body. The clots block blood flow to your lungs and may lead to a life-threatening condition.
DIC Or Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation
It is another severe and rare medical condition that blocks blood flow in the body. In general, it comes under the list of blood clotting disorders with the ability to turn into irrepressible bleeding. It mainly impacts individuals with sepsis/cancer or women recovering from pregnancy or birth.
Stroke is when adequate blood supply to your brain is reduced or interrupted. The brain tissues do not get enough oxygen or nutrients and die instantly.
Why And When Do You Need A D-Dimer, Quantitative Test?
Some tests are performed to ensure that a particular medical condition is causing all the symptoms you are experiencing. Other tests are only to rule out the possibility of a medical condition as the main cause. D-Dimer, Quantitative Test is used for both purposes. You can go for this test if you have symptoms related to blood clotting disorders, for example, pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis. Your doctor will perform this test during:
- DVT with symptoms like:
- Swelling or tenderness
- Pain in legs
- Redness in legs
PE with symptoms like:
- Severe cough
- chest pain
- Breathing difficulty
- Fast heartbeat
The test is only performed in both cases if you are not too likely to develop blood clots. However, if your chances of developing clots are too high, you will need other tests to confirm their presence. Conditions with higher risks of blood clots include:
- Clotting diseases since birth
- An immune system disease is known as anti-phospholipid syndrome
- Major surgeries, including knee replacement
- Injuries involving broken legs
- Extended periods of sitting and laying down (during traveling or hospital stay)
- Pregnancy or baby birth
- Some forms of cancers
At times, the D-Dimer, Quantitative Test is also used to rule out disseminated intravascular coagulation in which:
- Blood clots form in small blood vessels
- Excessive bleeding occurs that can be lethal
Apart from confirming the symptoms, D-Dimer Test is often used to analyze DIC treatment. If the levels of D-dimer decline, it means the treatment is working positively.
What kind of sample is required for The Test?
To perform the D-Dimer, Quantitative Test, the healthcare professional will take a blood sample from the veins in your arms using nothing but a small needle. Once the needle is in your arm, they will collect some amount of blood in a vial or test tube. You will feel the sting of the needle, so keep taking deep breaths until the needle is out. The entire process takes about 2-3 minutes only.
Do You Need To Prepare For The Test?
You do not have to do anything special to prepare for the test. Since it is only a standard blood test, you do not have to fast or stop eating/drinking like you would before a fasting blood test. After the test, you might experience some soreness or bruise at the injection site, but it usually goes away after a few minutes.
Are There Any Risks To This Test?
No. there are no risks related to this test.
What Do The Test Results Mean?
A normal or negative D-Dimer, Quantitative Test shows that the D-dimer levels are below the predetermined threshold. It means that you are not likely to have an acute medical condition or disease leading to abnormal clot formation in the body. According to different studies and research, the D-Dimer, Quantitative Test results are often valid and suitable when performed on individuals at low-moderate risk of developing thrombosis. The test results also help rule out blood clotting as the leading cause of specific medical emergencies.
On the other hand, Positive D-Dimer, Quantitative Test results show that you have abnormally high levels of fibrin degradation elements in the body. The doctors know that there is significant thrombus or blood clot breakdown and formation. However, the cause or location of the clots will still be unknown to them. Know that it can either be due to VTE (venous thromboembolism) or DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation).
Here, it is important to mention that the presence of D-dimers in the blood is not always indicative of the blood clots, and certain other factors might also have an impact.
Conditions like trauma, recent surgeries, heart attack, infection, cancerous cells, and diseases in which fibrin is formed and then breaks down may also elevate the D-dimer levels.