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DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation)
Alternative namesConsumption coagulopathy
DefinitionDIC is a disorder of diffuse activation of the clotting cascade that results in depletion of clotting factors in the blood.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) occurs when the blood clotting mechanisms are activated throughout the body instead of being localized to an area of injury. Small blood clots form throughout the body, and eventually the blood clotting factors are used up and not available to form clots at sites of tissue injury. Clot dissolving mechanisms are also increased. This disorder is variable in its clinical effects, and can result in either clotting symptoms or, more often, bleeding. Bleeding can be severe. DIC may be stimulated by many factors including infection in the blood by bacteria or fungus, severe tissue injury as in burns and head injury , cancer , reactions to blood transfusions, and obstetrical complications such as retained placenta after delivery.
Risk factors are recent sepsis , recent injury or trauma, recent surgery or anesthesia, complications of labor and delivery, leukemia or disseminated cancer, recent blood transfusion reaction , and severe liver disease .
Signs and tests
TreatmentThe objective of treatment is to determine the underlying cause of DIC and provide treatment for it.
Replacement therapy of the coagulation factors is achieved by transfusion of fresh frozen plasma. Cryoprecipitates may also be used if fibrinogen is significantly decreased. Heparin, a medication used to prevent thrombosis, is sometimes used in combination with replacement therapy.
Expectations (prognosis)The underlying disease that causes the disorder will usually predict the probable outcome.
Calling your health care providerGo to the emergency room or call the local emergency number (such as 911) if continued bleeding of unknown cause is present.
PreventionGet prompt treatment for conditions known to precipitate the disorder.
Update Date: 6/5/2003Ezra E. W. Cohen, M.D., Section of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Medicine, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT