Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a life-threatening
condition that prevents a person's blood from clotting normally. It may cause
excessive bleeding (hemorrhage) throughout the body, decreased urination,
breathing problems, decreased mental awareness, tissue death (necrosis), and
In DIC, the body's natural ability to regulate blood clotting does not function properly. This causes the blood's clotting
cells (platelets) to clump together and clog small blood vessels throughout the body. This excessive clotting damages
organs, destroys blood cells, and depletes the supply of platelets and other clotting factors so that the blood is no
longer able to clot normally. This often causes widespread bleeding, both internally and externally.
Common causes of DIC are severe trauma injuries, infectious
diseases, or types of cancers that upset the normal balance of blood clotting
Treatment for DIC depends on the medical condition causing it. Most
people with DIC require hospitalization, sometimes in an intensive care unit (ICU),
where treatment will attempt to correct the problem causing the DIC while
maintaining the function of the body's organs. Treatment may include blood
transfusions and medicines to correct both the problem that caused the DIC and
the DIC itself.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
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