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Search Health Information    Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)

Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)

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 shock.

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 factors.

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.

Last Revised: December 14, 2012

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology

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