Diagnosis and treatment of disseminated intravascular coagulation

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Abstract

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a condition in which systemic activation of coagulation without a specific localization occurs, resulting in extensive formation of intravascular fibrin, particularly in small and midsize vessels. Disseminated intravascular coagulation may lead to several altered coagulation parameters, including a low platelet count, abnormal global clotting assays, low levels of physiological anticoagulant proteases, or increased fibrin degradation products. Also, more complex assays for activation of coagulation factors or pathways may indicate involvement of these molecules in DIC. None of these tests alone, however, can accurately ascertain or rebuff a diagnosis of DIC. Nonetheless, a combination of readily available routine assays may be instrumental in establishing a diagnosis of DIC and can also be useful to point to a subset of patients with DIC that may need definite, often costly, interventions in the hemostatic system. Current insights on relevant etiological pathways that may contribute to the occurrence of DIC have led to innovative therapeutic and adjunctive approaches to patient with DIC. Management options directed at the amelioration of hemostatic activation may tentatively be indicated and were found to be advantageous in experimental and clinical investigations. These treatments encompass elimination of tissue factor-mediated thrombin generation or restitution of normal anticoagulant function.

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