Urine Test May Help Spot Dangerous Blood Clots
More accurate, less invasive than current screening, researchers contend
By Steven Reinberg
SUNDAY, May 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they've created a simple urine test that detects the presence of dangerous blood clots in the lungs more accurately than the current blood test.
The clot typically forms in the leg, where it is called a deep vein thrombosis, but it can break loose and travel to an artery in the lungs. Once lodged there, the clot, now called a pulmonary embolism, can be life-threatening, the researchers noted.
"The main advantage of our test is that it is noninvasive and can be developed into a urine dipstick test that could have a rapid turnaround time," said lead researcher Dr. Timothy Fernandes, from the division of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at the University of California, San Diego.
"This would be a tremendous boon to patients from the emergency department to the intensive care unit and even to outpatients," he added.
The test measures the levels of fibrinopeptide B (FPB), which is released when a clot forms.
Currently, doctors use a blood test to detect these clots. That test looks for a piece of a protein called D-dimer, which appears in the blood as a clot starts breaking apart.
The new test is not only noninvasive, it is more accurate than the D-dimer test, the researchers said.
The urine test can also track ongoing clot activity, another advantage over the D-dimer test, which finds a clot only once it begins to dissolve, Fernandes said.
The findings were to be presented Sunday at the American Thoracic Society annual meeting in San Diego. Research presented at meetings has not been peer-reviewed and should be considered preliminary.
"Our next steps are to further improve the diagnostic accuracy and performance of the test," Fernandes said. "We plan on evaluating urine FPB in other clinical settings where D-dimer has gained traction, such as for determining risk of venous thromboembolism recurrence after anti-clotting therapy has been stopped."
One expert noted that a better test for spotting clots in the lungs would be a significant advance.