Disseminated intravascular coagulation (patient information)

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Disseminated intravascular coagulation

Overview

What are the symptoms?

What are the causes?

Who is at highest risk?

Diagnosis

When to seek urgent medical care?

Treatment options

Where to find medical care for Disseminated intravascular coagulation?

Prevention

What to expect (Outlook/Prognosis)?

Possible complications

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Editor-in-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S.,M.D. [1] Phone:617-632-7753; Associate Editor-In-Chief: Lakshmi Gopalakrishnan, M.B.B.S.

Synonyms and Keywords: Consumption coagulopathy

Overview

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

What are the symptoms?

  • Bleeding, possibly from multiple sites in the body
  • Blood clots
  • Bruising
  • Drop in blood pressure

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)

Diagnosis

The following tests may be done:

When to seek urgent medical care?

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

Treatment options

  • 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?

Directions to Hospitals Treating Disseminated intravascular coagulation

Prevention

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.

Possible complications

  • Bleeding
  • Lack of blood flow to the arms, legs, or vital organs
  • Stroke

Source

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000573.htm


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