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Chest. 2005 Oct;128(4):2864-75.

Disseminated intravascular coagulation in sepsis.

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  • 1Central Hematology Laboratory, University Hospital, Berne, Switzerland.


Disseminated intravascular coagulation is a frequent complication of sepsis. Coagulation activation, inhibition of fibrinolysis, and consumption of coagulation inhibitors lead to a procoagulant state resulting in inadequate fibrin removal and fibrin deposition in the microvasculature. As a consequence, microvascular thrombosis contributes to promotion of organ dysfunction. Recently, three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials investigated the efficacy of antithrombin, activated protein C (APC), and tissue factor pathway inhibitor, respectively, in sepsis patients. A significant reduction in mortality was demonstrated in the APC trial. In this article, we first discuss the physiology of coagulation and fibrinolysis activation. Then, the pathophysiology of coagulation activation, consumption of coagulation inhibitors, and the inhibition of fibrinolysis leading to a procoagulant state are described in more detail. Moreover, therapeutic concepts as well as the three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are discussed.

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