Disseminated intravascular coagulation (patient information)
Disseminated intravascular coagulation
Disseminated intravascular coagulation On the Web
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Synonyms and Keywords: Consumption coagulopathy
Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a serious disorder in which the proteins that control blood clotting become abnormally active.
What are the symptoms?
What are the causes?
- 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. This often occurs due to inflammation, infection, or cancer.
- Small blood clots form in the blood vessels. Some of these clots can clog up the vessels and cut off blood supply to various organs such as the liver, brain, or kidney. These organs will then be damaged and may stop functioning.
- Over time, the clotting proteins are consumed or used up. When this happens, the person is then at risk for serious bleeding, even from a minor injury or without injury. This process may also break up healthy red blood cells.
Who is at highest risk?
Risk factors for DIC include:
- Blood transfusion reaction
- Cancer, especially certain types of leukemia
- Infection in the blood by bacteria or fungus
- Liver disease
- Pregnancy complications (such as placenta that is left behind after delivery)
- Recent surgery or anesthesia
- Sepsis (a serious infection)
- Severe tissue injury (as in burns and head injury)
The following tests may be done:
- Complete blood count with blood smear examination
- Fibrin degradation products
- Partial thromboplastin time (PTT)
- Platelet count
- Prothrombin time (PT)
- Serum fibrinogen
When to seek urgent medical care?
Go to the emergency room or call 911 if you have bleeding that won't stop.
- The goal is to determine and treat the cause of DIC.
- Blood clotting factors may be replaced with plasma transfusions. *Platelet transfusions can raise the blood count.
- Heparin, a medication used to prevent clotting, is sometimes used to interrupt clotting events.
Where to find medical care for Disseminated intravascular coagulation?
Get prompt treatment for conditions known to bring on this disorder.
What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?
The outcome depends on what is causing the disorder, but DIC can be life-threatening.
- Lack of blood flow to the arms, legs, or vital organs