We have evaluated the fibrinogen/fibrin fragment E antigen assay as a diagnostic test in patients with clinically suspected venous thrombosis by comparing the results of this assay with venography in 272 patients. The result of the fragment E antigen assay was elevated in 79 of 80 patients with positive venograms for recent venous thrombosis (sensitivity 99%) and within the normal range in 161 of 192 patients with normal venograms (specificity 84%). The fragment E assay was also evaluated in 130 medical and surgical controls without evidence of venous thrombosis by leg scanning and the test was found to be relatively nonspecific. However, in the patient group under study, a correct clinical diagnosis of no thrombosis, based on a normal fragment E result, was made in 161 of 162 cases (negative predictive value of 99%). Therefore, a normal test result effectively excludes a diagnosis of venous thrombosis in clinically symptomatic patients. The assay, as currently performed, is technically demanding and takes 24 hr to complete. Therefore, it will have to be simplified before it can be applied to clinical practice.

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