Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), also known as disseminated intravascular coagulopathy or less commonly as consumptive coagulopathy, is a pathological process characterized by the widespread activation of the clotting cascade that results in the formation of blood clots in the small blood vessels throughout the body. This leads to compromise of tissue blood flow and can ultimately lead to multiple organ damage. In addition, as the coagulation process consumes clotting factors and platelets, normal clotting is disrupted and severe bleeding can occur from various sites.
DIC does not occur by itself but only as a complicating factor from another underlying condition, usually in those with a critical illness. The combination of widespread tissue ischemia and simultaneous bleeding carry an increased risk of death in addition to that posed by the underlying disease. DIC can be overt and severe in some cases, but milder and insidious in others. The diagnosis of DIC depends on the findings of characteristic laboratory tests and clinical background. Treatment is mainly geared towards the underlying condition.