Internal and Emergency Medicine

, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 23–32

Disseminated intravascular coagulation: a review for the internist


DOI: 10.1007/s11739-012-0859-9

Cite this article as:
Levi, M. & van der Poll, T. Intern Emerg Med (2013) 8: 23. doi:10.1007/s11739-012-0859-9


Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a syndrome characterized by systemic intravascular activation of coagulation, leading to widespread deposition of fibrin in the circulation. Recent knowledge on important pathogenetic mechanisms that may lead to DIC has resulted in novel preventive and therapeutic approaches to patients with DIC. The diagnosis of DIC can be made by sensitive laboratory tests; however, most of these tests are not readily available in a clinical setting. A reliable diagnosis can also be made on the basis of a small series of laboratory tests that can be combined in a scoring algorithm. The cornerstone of the management of DIC is the specific and vigorous treatment of the underlying disorder. Strategies aimed at the inhibition of coagulation activation may theoretically be justified and have been found beneficial in experimental and clinical studies. These strategies comprise inhibition of tissue factor-mediated activation of coagulation or restoration of physiological anticoagulant pathways.


Disseminated intravascular coagulationThrombinTissue factorInflammationCoagulationAnticoagulantsFibrinolysis

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© SIMI 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of Amsterdam, Academic Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Center of Experimental Molecular MedicineUniversity of Amsterdam, Academic Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Center of Infection and Immunity AmsterdamUniversity of Amsterdam, Academic Medical CenterAmsterdamThe Netherlands