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D-dimer test

A D-dimer test checks the D-dimer levels in the blood. This compound is a small piece of protein produced from a blood clot dissolving in the body.

Blood clotting is an essential body process that prevents excess blood loss from an injury. Normally, the body dissolves a blood clot immediately after the injury heals. However, if a blood clotting disorder is present, clots can form without an obvious injury, or the blood clot doesn’t dissolve immediately after an injury. These conditions are often serious and life-threatening.

Your doctor can order a D-dimer test to help diagnose these conditions.

Other names include fibrin degradation fragment and fragment D-dimer.

What is a D-dimer test for?

Doctors often order the D-dimer test to help determine if a blood clotting condition is present. These conditions include:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (Venous thrombosis or DVT)

    Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot in a vein deep inside the body. The blood clot may completely or partially obstruct blood flow in the vein. Most DVTs happen in the pelvis, lower leg or thigh but can occur in other body parts, including the brain, kidney, liver, arm or intestines.

  • Pulmonary embolism (PE)

    A pulmonary embolism is a blood clot occurring in the lung. It results from a clot travelling from another part of the body, usually the arm or leg, through the bloodstream into the lung’s blood vessels.

  • Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)

    DIC causes several clots to form on the body. This can result in organ damage and other serious health complications. Healthcare providers use the D-dimer test to diagnose DIC and monitor the effectiveness of the treatment.

  • Stroke

    A stroke, also known as a brain attack, occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or becomes blocked.

Why is a D-dimer test necessary?

A D-dimer test may be necessary if you show symptoms of a blood clotting disorder, such as a pulmonary embolism (PE) or deep vein thrombosis.

The symptoms of DVT are:

  • Red streaks or redness on the legs
  • Leg tenderness or pain
  • Leg swelling

Symptoms of PE are:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain cough

This test is usually done in an emergency room or other healthcare settings. Contact your doctor if you experience DVT symptoms and aren’t in a healthcare setting. If your symptoms are for PE, contact 911 or seek medical attention immediately.

Who needs the test?

Your doctor may recommend D-dimer testing if they suspect you have a blood clotting disorder. This test is particularly important if you show symptoms of PE or DVT, such as swelling or pin in the affected limb, chest pain and laboured breathing.

Since this test is non-invasive and quick, the doctor may also use it to rule out these conditions. A healthcare professional may order this test, including other blood tests, to diagnose certain conditions.

If you are undergoing DIC treatment, your doctor may order the D-dimer test to monitor your condition.

What is a normal D-dimer test result?

Several testing methods to check for D-dimer in the blood are available, so there isn’t a general normal range. Your laboratory results will indicate whether your D-dimer level is high, low, negative or positive.

If your results show a negative, low or normal D-dimer level, you are unlikely to have a blood clotting disorder.

If you had a disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) diagnosis and are in treatment, a low or normal D-dimer level in your blood likely means your treatment is effective.

What is the meaning of a high D-dimer test result?

If your results show that your D-dimer level is higher than the normal range, you likely have a blood clotting condition. A D-dimer test cannot diagnose the type of blood clotting condition present or where the clot or clots are in your body.

If you had a disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) diagnosis and are undergoing treatment, a high D-dimer level in your blood likely means the treatment isn’t effective.

You can have elevated D-dimer levels without a blood clotting disorder. Other situations and conditions that may result in higher D-dimer levels include:

  • Infection
  • Trauma
  • Heart disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Recent surgery

D-dimer levels are usually high in older people, and rheumatoid arthritis can give a false positive result.

If you have elevated D-dimer levels, your doctor may recommend additional blood testing and imaging tests for an accurate diagnosis.

When should I contact my doctor?

If you experience pulmonary embolism or stroke symptoms, visit the nearest emergency room or call 911 immediately. You can call your healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms of deep vein thrombosis.

D-dimer testing is available at Blood London. You can contact us today at 020 71830244 or [email protected] to book an appointment for your D-dimer test if you experience blood clotting disorder symptoms or to get more information on this test.


What you should know about a D-Dimer Test.

The D-dimer test is the blood test used by the doctors to identify if a severe blood clot is present. It is extremely helpful when the doctor suspects a blood clot in the lungs or within the veins of the pelvis or in the leg.

These conditions can be very serious and it is important to get fast treatment to enhance the chances of survival and prevent other medical issues. Read on to know more about D-dimer test, how doctors are using it and its limitations.

Why would a doctor suggest a D-dimer test?

A D-dimer test is usually used to identify a blood clotting disorder. Such disorders could be blood clots deep within the veins - deep vein thrombosis or DVT. The clots often affect lower legs, but might occur in other parts of the body.

What you should know about a critical D-dimer

This test will show that there might be significant formation of blood clots or thrombus although it won’t tell the cause or location. For example, it might occur due to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) or venous thromboembolism (VTE). The D-dimer level will be extremely elevated in case of DIC.

What can lead to increased D-dimer?

An elevated D-dimer might occur due to a DIC or VTE, but it might happen due to recent surgery, kidney or liver disease, infection or trauma, cancers, in normal pregnancy but also certain diseases of pregnancy like eclampsia.

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Advice from expert UK doctors

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