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You are here : 3-RX.com > Medical Encyclopedia > Diseases and Conditions > Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation
      Category : Health Centers > Blood Disorders and Lymphatic System

Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation

Alternate Names : DIC, Consumption Coagulopathy

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors | Symptoms & Signs | Diagnosis & Tests | Prevention & Expectations | Treatment & Monitoring

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a serious condition that affects the blood clotting mechanisms of the body. The proteins involved in blood clotting are activated in an abnormal and uncontrollable fashion by various diseases. This can result in tissue damage and abnormal bleeding.

What is going on in the body?

When a person is cut or bleeding from an injury, the blood must clot to stop him or her from bleeding to death. In order for blood to clot, a complex chain of events must occur. These events involve the activation, or "turning on," of certain proteins in the blood. In addition, special blood cells called platelets also help blood to form clots.

In DIC, platelets and the proteins that make blood clot are activated abnormally. DIC usually occurs due to another underlying disease or condition, such as cancer. Once the blood clotting mechanism is turned on in DIC, blood clots may form inside the bloodstream. These tiny blood clots can damage tissue by blocking blood flow through blood vessels. In addition, if the DIC persists, all of the blood clotting proteins may get "used up" or destroyed. This may lead to abnormal bleeding.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

The most common causes of DIC are:

  • pregnancy, which usually causes DIC when a complication causes material from the inside of the womb to get into the mother's bloodstream
  • cancer
  • serious infections, such as a blood infection known as sepsis
  • severe head injury
  • surgery, such as operations involving the prostate gland in men
  • certain poisonous snakebites


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    Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation: Symptoms & Signs

    Author: Adam Brochert, MD
    Reviewer: Gail Hendrickson, RN, BS
    Date Reviewed: 07/12/01

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