Posted October 1, 2022 by Anusha ‐ 4 min read
A D-dimer test is a simple blood test that can help your healthcare provider determine if you may have a blood clotting condition. If you have a high level of D-dimer in your blood, your provider may have you undergo further blood tests and imaging procedures to determine a diagnosis.
What is a D-dimer test?
A D-dimer test is a blood test that measures D-dimer, which is a protein fragment that your body makes when a blood clot dissolves in your body.
D-dimer is normally undetectable or only detectable at a very low level unless your body is forming and breaking down significant blood clots.
A positive or elevated D-dimer test result may indicate that you have a blood clotting condition, but it doesn’t guarantee that you have one.
A D-dimer test can’t reveal what type of clotting condition you have or where the clot is located in your body.
What is a D-dimer test used for?
Healthcare providers most often use D-dimer tests to help determine if someone has a blood clotting condition, which include:
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT or venous thrombosis)
Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that develops in a vein deep in your body.
The clot may partially or completely block blood flow through the vein.
Most DVTs happen in your lower leg, thigh or pelvis, but they can also occur in other parts of your body including your arm, brain, intestines, liver or kidney.
Pulmonary embolism (PE)
A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot in your lung that happens when a clot in another part of your body (often your leg or arm) flows through your bloodstream and becomes lodged in the blood vessels of your lung.
Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)
DIC causes too many blood clots to form in your body, which can cause organ damage and other serious complications.
In addition to using a D-dimer test to help diagnose DIC, healthcare providers use the test to help monitor the effectiveness of DIC treatment.
A stroke, or
brain attack, happens when a blood vessel in your brain becomes blocked or bursts.
During the procedure of D-dimer test
A D-dimer test is a blood test. You can expect to experience the following during a blood test, or blood draw:
You’ll sit in a chair or lie on a medical bed, and a healthcare provider will check your arms for an easily accessible vein. This is usually in the inner part of your arm on the other side of your elbow.
Once they’ve located a vein, they’ll clean and disinfect the area.
They’ll then insert a small needle into your vein to take a blood sample. This may feel like a small pinch.
After they insert the needle, a small amount of blood will collect in a test tube.
Once they have enough blood to test, they’ll remove the needle and hold a cotton ball or gauze on the site to stop the bleeding.
They’ll place a bandage over the site, and you’ll be finished.
The entire process usually takes less than five minutes.
After the procedure of D-dimer test
After a healthcare provider has collected your blood sample, they’ll send it to a laboratory for testing. Once the test results are back, your healthcare provider will share the results with you.
Risks of D-dimer test
Blood tests are a very common and essential part of medical testing. There’s very little risk to having blood tests. You may have slight tenderness or a bruise at the site of the blood draw, but this usually resolves quickly.
What is a normal D-dimer test result?
There are several different methods for testing the level of D-dimer in your blood, so there’s no one universal
Your lab results will provide information indicating if your D-dimer level is normal, low or high or positive or negative.
If your lab results reveal that you have low, negative or normal D-dimer levels in your blood, it means you most likely don’t have a clotting disorder.
If you’ve been diagnosed with disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) and are undergoing treatment, a normal or low level of D-dimer in your blood most likely means that your treatment is working well.