Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)1

In disseminated intravascular coagulation, or DIC, the processes of coagulation and fibrinolysis become abnormally activated within the vasculature and may lead to thrombosis and hemorrhage.

Signs and symptoms of DIC include:

  • Bleeding
    • Blood in urine and stool; headache may be indicative of a brain bleed; petechiae; bleeding from wound, surgical, or catheter sites; mucosal bleeding
  • Clotting:
    • Blocked blood flow to organs such as kidneys and liver, causing organ failure
    • Thromboembolisms to the lungs and heart causing chest pain and shortness of breath
    • Heart attack and stroke
    • Necrosis due to decreased blood flow to skin
  • Laboratory testing is often repeated serially to determine if coagulation and fibrinolysis are worsening or improving
  • A major principle in the management of DIC is treatment of the underlying cause in order to eliminate the stimulus for ongoing coagulation and thrombosis

Reference: 1. Leung LLK. Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) in adults: evaluation and management. UpToDate website. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-features-diagnosis-and-treatment-of-disseminated-intravascular-coagulation-in-adults. Updated January 4, 2021. Accessed May 20, 2021.