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  • Symposien Care Of The Post-Operative Surgical Patient Symposium Held On September 8–9, 1983 In Edinburgh
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The early diagnosis of impending coagulopathies following surgery and multiple trauma

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Blood coagulation problems, either disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) or adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) are frequent complications during the recovery of the polytraumatized surgical patient or accident victims. The key to their successful control lies in prompt recognition and aggressive treatment of the disease as soon as it appears. Unfortunately their onset is not usually well defined clinically and success in handling usually depends upon clinical expertise in recognising “high risk” situations coupled with measurements in the haematological laboratory of changes in plasma coagulation factors.

It is suggested in this communication that a relatively simple examination of plasma complement profiles in the high risk, intensive care patient, may not only provide early warning of the onset of a coagulopathy but also distinguish the type. Simple tests are described, based on the assessment of plasma complement C5 levels, which have a high predictive value for the onset of ARDS, a disease with few early clinical manifestations and notably lacking in early changes in haematological parameters.

In prospective trials complement tests correctly identified 18 patients who later developed ARDS but were no more effective than haematological tests in the identification of 24 patients who subsequently developed DIC.

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adult respiratory distress syndrome


disseminated intravascular clotting


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Watkins, J., Wild, G. The early diagnosis of impending coagulopathies following surgery and multiple trauma. Klin Wochenschr 63, 1019–1027 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01737639

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Key words

  • DIC (disseminated intravascular clotting)
  • ARDS (adult respiratory distress syndrome)
  • Complement
  • Anaphylatoxin C5a
  • Operation
  • Multiple trauma