How is disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) diagnosed?

Updated: Dec 06, 2020
  • Author: Marcel M Levi, MD; Chief Editor: Srikanth Nagalla, MBBS, MS, FACP  more...
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Diagnosis of disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) can be difficult, especially in cases of chronic, smoldering DIC, where clinical and laboratory abnormalities may be subtle. [53] No single routinely available laboratory test is sufficiently sensitive or specific to allow a diagnosis of DIC; however, several commonly available laboratory tests often yield abnormal results in DIC. Typically, moderate-to-severe thrombocytopenia is present. Furthermore, the peripheral blood smear can demonstrate evidence of microangiopathic pathology (schistocytes). Scoring systems have been developed to facilitate diagnosis of DIC.

Imaging studies are useful only to detect an underlying cause; the diagnosis of DIC is made by combining the clinical impression with any laboratory abnormalities noted.

No specific procedures help establish a specific diagnosis of DIC. However, a number of different procedures may help to diagnose the underlying causative condition.

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