Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)

Definition

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a serious disorder in which the proteins that control blood clotting become over active.

Alternative Names

Consumption coagulopathy; DIC

Causes

When you are injured, proteins in the blood that form blood clots travel to the injury site to help stop bleeding. If you have DIC, these proteins become abnormally active throughtout the body. This may be due to inflammation, infection, or cancer.

Small blood clots form in the blood vessels. Some of these clots can clog the vessels and cut off blood supply to organs such as the liver, brain, or kidneys. Lack of blood flow can damage the organ and it may stop working. 

Over time, the clotting proteins in your blood are "used up." When this happens, you have a higher risk for serious bleeding, even from a minor injury or without injury. You mlay also have bleeding that starts on its own. The disease can also cause healthy red blood cells to break up when they thravel through the small vessesl that are filled with clots.

Risk factors for DIC include:

Symptoms

Exams and Tests

You may have the following tests:

Treatment

The goal is to determine and treat the cause of DIC.

There is no specific treatment for DIC. Treatments may inlcude:

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

The outcome depends on what is causing the disorder. DIC can be life-threatening.

Possible Complications

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Go to the emergency room or call 911 if you have bleeding that won't stop.

Prevention

Get prompt treatment for conditions known to bring on this disorder.

References

 
Schafer AI. Hemorrhagic disorders: disseminated intravascular coagulation, liver failure, and vitamin K deficiency. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 178.

Liebman HA, Weitz IC. Disseminated intravascular coagulation. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Shattil SS, et al., eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2008:chap 132.


Review Date: 11/17/2012
Reviewed By: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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