In 2016, there were 8,704 hospital admissions due to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) with an average age of 56. DIC is a serious and potentially fatal bleeding disorder, especially if you don't get immediate treatment.
Bleeding disorders develop when your blood doesn't clot properly. Sometimes they can occur spontaneously or due to injury and illness. For this reason, a DIC test is critical in letting you know where you stand.
Suffering from DIC isn't anything that should be taken lightly. Keep reading this guide to find out everything you need to know about DIC and DIC tests.
What Is DIC?
Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a condition that develops in your blood. In the initial stages of DIC, your blood clots excessively. These clots can reduce blood flow to parts of your body and even organs.
Eventually, as DIC progresses, your body ends up using all of its platelets and clotting components. As a result, you begin to experience excessive and life-threatening bleeding.
When the clotting proteins in your blood are depleted, you are at serious risk of bleeding, even from a minor injury. You can also have bleeding that spontaneously starts on its own.
DIC can be both acute and chronic. Acute DIC starts rapidly developing over hours or days. Acute DIC is severe, and immediate hospital admission is necessary. Acute DIC is usually caused by trauma, surgery, or infection.
You develop blood clotting over time with chronic DIC, but it doesn't lead to bleeding like acute DIC. Chronic DIC usually results from blood clotting disorders or leukemia-like cancers.
Risk factors for DIC
There are certain medical conditions and traumatic situations that put you at a higher risk of developing DIC. These include:
- You've had surgery recently
- You've delivered a baby recently
- You've had a miscarriage
- A recent blood transfusion
- Recent anesthesia
- Sepsis or any fungal or bacterial infection
- History of certain cancers like leukemia
Other risk factors include damage from serious trauma, burn, or head injury. You're also at increased risk for DIC if you have liver disease.
Causes of DIC
What causes disseminated intravascular coagulation? During the normal clotting process, the proteins that help your blood clot become overly active, which causes DIC. Common causes of DIC include:
- Severe trauma
Other less common causes include hypothermia, pancreatitis, venomous snack bites, burns, and bleeding complications.
Signs and Symptoms of DIC
The main symptom of DIC is bleeding, often in many locations. The most common place to bleed from is the tissue from your mouth and nose. DIC can also cause internal bleeding. Other symptoms you might notice include:
- Blood clots
- Bruising easily
- Vaginal or rectal bleeding
- Red dots on your skin called petechiae
If you have cancer, DIC typically begins slowly with clotting in the veins rather than excessive bleeding.
Complications can occur if acute DIC isn't treated immediately. These complications usually come from the early stages of blood clots and after the clotting factors are depleted.
Complications usually include excessive bleeding that can lead to death, stroke, or blood clots that cut off blood supply to your limbs or organs.
How is DIC Diagnosed?
It's essential to remember acute DIC is a medical emergency and requires medical treatment. DIC can become life-threatening if not treated right away. If you have signs and symptoms of severe bleeding, it's critical to call 911 right away.
Your doctor will do a physical exam, take your medical history, and ask you about your symptoms. If your doctor suspects you have DIC, they will order a series of blood tests.
These blood tests can identify your clotting factors, levels of platelets, and other blood components. Doctors make a diagnosis based on the combination of these results.
Lab Tests for DIC
A disseminated intravascular coagulation test includes a combination of tests to determine how fast your blood is clotting and how your blood clotting factors compare to the normal ranges.
The first test is an activated partial thromboplastin time (PTT) test. This test measures for any deficiencies of your plasma coagulation factors except for factors VII and XIII.
The next test is Prothrombin Time (PT) INR. This test measures any coagulation factors abnormalities and determines if your blood clots are too fast or not fast enough.
A fibrinogen activity test measures the level of fibrinogen in your blood. Fibrinogen is essential for blood clots to form. If your fibrinogen is low, you can be at risk for severe bleeding disorders.
The D-Dimer test tests the amount of D-Dimer or products of the activation of the fibrinolytic system. When this is activated, you're at high risk of developing serious blot clots.
A fibrin monomer test is instrumental in diagnosing DIC and differentiating it from other blood clotting disorders.
The International Society of Thrombosis and Hemostasis developed a scoring scale as a guideline for diagnosing DIC. The design of this scale is specifically for people with critical illnesses known to trigger DIC. This scale categorizes patients with either "probably overt DIC" or "not overt DIC" based on specific lab parameters.
Your platelet count, fibrin makers, prothrombin time, and fibrinogen levels are measured and scored from 0 to 2. Low levels of each of these values get the highest amount of points.
Frequently Asked Questions About DIC
Are you wondering how worried you should be after a blood transfusion reaction? The good news is, any reaction from blood transfusions, including DIC, is rare. All blood goes through a strict screening process to determine blood type.
Is there one single treatment for DIC? Treatment for DIC usually includes transfusions of red blood cells, fresh frozen plasma, and other clotting factors. The replacement of blood platelets helps stop the bleeding and replace clotting factors.
What's the most common cause of DIC? Most of the time, inflammation, cancer, and infection are at the top of the list.
DIC Test With Ulta Lab Tests
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- Secure and confidential results
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Order your DIC test today, and your results will be provided to you securely online in 24 to 48 hours in most cases.
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