Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC)

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a rare blood clotting disorder. It may happen if you have illnesses like sepsis, cancer or pancreatitis.


What is disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)?

Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a rare blood clotting disorder that can cause organ damage and uncontrollable bleeding. DIC is a complication of different serious medical conditions that can be life-threatening if you don’t receive treatment.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Symptoms and Causes

What are symptoms of DIC?

DIC symptoms may include:

  • Uncontrollable bleeding from several areas of your body.
  • Bruising.
  • Confusion, memory loss or change of behavior.
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnea).
  • Fever that’s more than 103 degrees Fahrenheit (39.4 degrees Celsius).

What causes DIC?

To understand what causes DIC, it may help to understand how your body makes blood clots. Your liver makes clotting factors (proteins) that stick to platelets in your blood to form a blood clot. Normally, blood clots stop or slow bleeding and start your body’s healing process. But In DIC, your body develops more blood clots than you need.

There are two stages of DIC:

  • First, small blood clots start to block your blood vessels. This cuts off the blood supply to major organs.
  • Second, your platelets and clotting factor run out, leaving your body without a way to control bleeding.

What are risk factors for DIC?

Risk factors include having serious infections or injuries, certain medical conditions or complications of some medical treatments.

Medical conditions that can cause DIC include:

Medical treatments that can cause DIC include:


What are complications of disseminated intravascular coagulation?

Without treatment, DIC can cause:

Diagnosis and Tests

How is DIC diagnosed?

Healthcare providers will do a physical examination and ask about your medical history, specifically whether you have sepsis, cancer or other medical conditions that cause disseminated intravascular coagulation.

What tests diagnose disseminated intravascular coagulation?

Healthcare providers may use the following tests:


Management and Treatment

What are treatments for DIC?

DIC treatment starts with treating the condition or injury that triggered blood clot development. Healthcare providers also take steps to reduce bleeding with:

Treatment complications and/or side effects

Anticoagulants may cause internal bleeding. If you receive them, your healthcare provider will explain what steps you should take to reduce your risk of internal bleeding.

Outlook / Prognosis

Can someone recover from DIC?

Yes, they can. Supportive treatments like anticoagulants and blood and platelet transfusions may stop blood clots from forming. But healthcare providers still need to treat the medical issue that triggers DIC.

Living With

Most people who have disseminated intravascular coagulation are already coping with serious medical conditions or illnesses. If that’s your situation, a DIC diagnosis means you have another serious medical issue to manage. Here are some suggestions that may help you to manage DIC:

  • Take all medicines regularly, as your healthcare provider prescribes. Don’t change the amount of your medicine or skip a dose unless they tell you to.
  • Ask your provider before taking any over-the-counter (OTC) products, such as pain relievers, vitamins, supplements, herbal supplements or herbal remedies.
  • Talk with your provider about how often you should schedule office visits and blood tests to monitor the medications you’re taking.
  • If you’re taking anticoagulants, make sure all your providers know so they can adjust treatment accordingly.

Additional Common Questions

When should I seek care?

Disseminated intravascular coagulation can cause serious complications. You should seek care or go to the emergency room (ER) right away if you have:

  • Heavy bleeding that you can’t control.
  • Heart attack symptoms.
  • Stroke symptoms.

What questions should I ask my healthcare provider?

  • What’s DIC?
  • Why did I develop this condition?
  • What are the chances I’ll have DIC again?
  • Are there symptoms I can monitor?
  • What medications treat DIC?
  • How long will I need to take these medications?
  • What are the medications’ side effects?
  • How will the medications interact with medications I’m taking for other medical conditions?

A note from Cleveland Clinic

If you have disseminated intravascular coagulation, you’re already dealing with other serious medical issues. Having DIC likely means you have more symptoms to monitor, medications to take and treatments to manage. Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re feeling overwhelmed by your medical challenges. They’ll understand what you’re going through and will have suggestions for programs or services.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 08/30/2023.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Cancer Answer Line 866.223.8100