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New Horiz. 1993 May;1(2):312-23.

Disseminated intravascular coagulation: pathophysiology, diagnosis, and treatment.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Slotervaart Hospital, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Disseminated intravascular coagulation is a frequent finding in critically ill patients, and may be diagnosed in the majority of patients with Gram-negative sepsis. Tissue damage may result from intravascular thrombosis, and disseminated intravascular coagulation is an underestimated causal factor in the pathogenesis of organ failure in sepsis. The diagnosis of disseminated intravascular coagulation is difficult, as the initial coagulation process that leads to thrombosis is counteracted by fibrinolytic responses, that in the context of ongoing consumption of clotting factors may result in an overwhelming bleeding tendency. Hence, depending on underlying disease, and the time at which the patient is evaluated, different laboratory results may be obtained. The treatment of disseminated intravascular coagulation is even more challenging than its diagnosis. No well-designed, controlled clinical trials exist that form a basis for rational treatment decisions. Treatment frequently needs to be individualized, and rapid adjustments may be necessitated by the course of the disease. Nonetheless, we believe that recent insights in the pathophysiology of disseminated intravascular coagulation, in particular concerning the role of the extrinsic coagulation pathway, provide ground for some optimism concerning future therapeutic options.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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