• Open Access

Plasma d-Dimer Concentration in Sick Newborn Foals


  • This study was partially presented at the 1st meeting of the European College of Equine Internal Medicine in Leipzig (Germany), January 2005, and at the 24th Annual ACVIM Forum in Louisville (KY), May-June 2006. Both abstracts were published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (2006;20:457 and 2006;20:721, respectively).

Corresponding author: Luis Monreal, Departament de Medicina i Cirurgia Animals, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193-Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain; e-mail: lluis.monreal@uab.es.


Background: Septicemia is associated with a systemic inflammatory response, hemostatic activation, and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy (DIC).

Hypothesis: Increased plasma d-dimer concentration occurs in septic neonates and can reliably detect sepsis or DIC, and predict death in ill neonatal foals.

Animals: 40 septic, 41 nonseptic hospitalized foals, and 22 healthy neonates.

Methods: Prospective observational clinical study. Blood samples were collected on admission, at 24–48 hours after admission, and at the time of discharge or euthanasia. Plasma d-dimer concentration, clotting times, antithrombin activity, and fibrinogen concentration were determined.

Results: On admission, d-dimer concentration values were significantly higher in septic foals (median, 25–75th percentiles; 568, 245–2013 ng/mL) compared with the nonseptic and healthy groups (386, 175–559 and 313, 152–495 ng/mL, respectively), and in septic foals at the age of 2–7 days compared with similar-age nonseptic foals. By means of samples taken at 24–48 hours of hospitalization and a cut-off value of > 2000 ng/mL, D dimer concentration was significantly associated with the diagnosis of septicemia (odds ratio [OR] = 19.6, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.9–203) and death (OR = 8.7, 95% CI 1.8–43). Owing to a high false-positive prediction rate (71%), a normal d-dimer concentration is better at eliminating the diagnosis of sepsis than an increased d-dimer concentration at predicting sepsis. Fifty percent of septic foals had a diagnosis of DIC, but d-dimer concentration was not significantly associated with the diagnosis of DIC.

Conclusions and clinical importance: Septic foals showed a marked activation of coagulation and fibrinolytic systems and a high prevalence of DIC. Increased plasma d-dimer concentration is significantly associated with the diagnosis of sepsis.