Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a serious disorder in which the proteins that control blood clotting become over active.
Consumption coagulopathy; DIC
When you are injured, proteins in the blood that form blood clots travel to the injury site to help stop bleeding. If you have DIC, these proteins become abnormally active throughout the body. This may be due to inflammation, infection, or cancer.
Small blood clots form in the blood vessels. Some of these clots can clog the vessels and cut off blood supply to organs such as the liver, brain, or kidneys. Lack of blood flow can damage the organ and it may stop working properly.
Over time, the clotting proteins in your blood are consumed or "used up." When this happens, you have a high risk of serious bleeding, even from a minor injury or without injury. You may also have bleeding that starts spontaneously (on its own). The disease can also cause healthy red blood cells to break up when they travel through the small vessels that are filled with clots.
Go to the emergency room or call 911 if you have bleeding that does not stop.
Get prompt treatment for conditions known to bring on this disorder.
Levi M. Disseminated intravascular coagulation. In: Hoffman R, Benz EJ Jr, Silberstein LE, et al., eds. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 141.
Thachil J, Toh CH. Current concepts in the management of disseminated intravascular coagulation. Thromb Res. 2012;129 Suppl 1:S54-S59.
Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.