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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Fundamentals of Hemostasis. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Coagulation Disorders - Acquired

Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC) is best described as a disorder of consumption, because clotting factors are depleted from the blood. Following are characteristics of DIC:

  • Clotting occurs randomly throughout the body, as opposed to just in the localized areas where vascular damage has occurred, consuming clotting factors and other components such as platelets in the process.
  • Symptoms may range from a mild bleed, to severe, profuse bleeding, primarily dependent upon the availability of clotting factors.
  • As more and more coagulation factors and components are consumed, the disorder progresses and symptoms worsen.
  • Most heavily impacted are the levels of factors I, V, and VIII as well as the number of available platelets.
  • Clinically, DIC is detected via an elevated (positive) FDP, positive D-dimer test, a prolonged PT and APTT, plus the manifestation of hemorrhagic episodes. Low fibrinogen (factor I) levels are also useful in detecting DIC.
DIC is diagnosed as two primary types, acute and chronic.
  • Acute DIC manifests in a few hours or a few days, has a high mortality rate, and is seen in infections, obstetric complications, liver disease, and tissue injury.
  • Chronic DIC is a secondary condition to some other disease state. Once you treat the primary disease, this type of DIC will go away.
Treatment is often factor replacement therapy through the use of fresh frozen plasma and/or cryoprecipitate.