What is disseminated intravascular coagulation? — Disseminated intravascular coagulation, or "DIC," is a serious condition that makes people bleed too easily, get blood clots too easily, or both.
DIC is most likely to happen in people with certain conditions, including:
Sepsis – Sepsis is a serious illness that happens when an infection travels through the whole body.
A recent severe injury or major surgery
Cancer, especially cancer that has spread throughout a person's body or a specific kind of leukemia called "acute promyelocytic leukemia"
Pregnancy (although this is rare)
DIC can happen all of a sudden or slowly over time. When DIC happens suddenly, doctors call it "acute DIC." When DIC happens slowly, doctors call it "chronic DIC."
What are the symptoms of DIC? — Symptoms depend on what condition is causing the DIC and whether the DIC is acute or chronic.
Acute DIC is often related to a serious illness, such as a bloodstream infection, certain types of cancer, or a rare problem during the second half of pregnancy. People with acute DIC are often very sick. Common symptoms of acute DIC include:
Bleeding too easily – People can bleed from cuts in their skin. They can also bleed under the skin or inside the body. Bleeding under the skin can cause large bruises or a rash of red or purple spots that are not painful and do not go away when touched.
Getting blood clots too easily – Blood clots can form in and damage different organs in the body. Depending on the part of the body involved, symptoms might include:
•Swelling, redness, or pain in the leg
•Trouble breathing, or chest pain when you take a deep breath
Confusion, trouble thinking clearly, or going into a coma
People with chronic DIC usually have only mild symptoms, but they can have blood clots.
Is there a test for DIC? — There are several tests that can help a doctor decide if a person is likely to have DIC. But there is no one test that can tell for sure. To check for DIC, the doctor will look at a person's medical condition and do blood tests that measure clotting.
How is DIC treated? — The most important treatment for DIC is to treat the condition that led to the DIC.
After that, treatment depends on a person's symptoms. Most people do not need other treatment.
People who are bleeding a lot might be treated with:
Platelet transfusions – Platelets are normal blood cells that help blood to clot.
Clotting factors – Clotting factors are natural proteins that help blood to clot.
People with DIC who get blood clots too easily might be treated with a medicine to prevent blood clots.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 17113 Version 5.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
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