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Alternative Names Return to topConsumption coagulopathy
Definition Return to top
Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a serious disorder in which the proteins that control blood clotting become abnormally active.
Causes Return to top
Normally, when you are injured, certain proteins in the blood become activated and travel to the injury site to help stop bleeding. However, in persons with DIC, these proteins become abnormally active.
Small blood clots form within the blood vessels. Some of these clots can clog up the vessels and cut off blood supply to various organs such as the liver or kidney. These organs will then stop functioning. Over time, the clotting proteins become "used up." When this happens, the person is then at risk for serious bleeding from even a minor injury.
This disorder can result in clots or, more often, in bleeding. The bleeding can be severe.
Risk factors for DIC include:
Symptoms Return to top
Exams and Tests Return to top
The following tests may be done:
Treatment Return to top
The goal is to determine and treat the underlying cause of DIC.
Blood clotting factors will be replaced with plasma transfusions. Heparin, a medication used to prevent clotting, is sometimes used also.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The outcome depends on what is causing the disorder.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Go to the emergency room or call 911 if you have bleeding that won't stop.
Prevention Return to top
Get prompt treatment for conditions known to bring on this disorder.
References Return to top
Levi M. Disseminated intravascular coagulation: What's new? Crit Care Clin. Jul 2005; 21(3): 449-67.
DeLoughery TG. Critical care clotting catastrophies. Crit Care Clin. Jul 2005; 21(3): 531-62.
Gando S. A multicenter, prospective validation of disseminated intravascular coagulation diagnostic criteria for critically ill patients: comparing current criteria. Crit Care Med. Mar 2006; 34(3): 625-31.Update Date: 5/19/2008 Updated by: Sean O. Stitham, MD, private practice in Internal Medicine, Seattle, WA; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.