DIC in Pregnancy – Pathophysiology, Clinical Characteristics, Diagnostic Scores, and Treatments

Offer Erez, Maha Othman, Anat Rabinovich, Elad Leron, Francesca Gotsch, Jecko Thachil

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Obstetrical hemorrhage and especially DIC (disseminated intravascular coagula-tion) is a leading cause for maternal mortality across the globe, often secondary to underlying maternal and/or fetal complications including placental abruption, amniotic fluid embolism, HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes and low platelets), retained stillbirth and acute fatty liver of pregnancy. Various obstetrical disorders can present with DIC as a complication; thus, increased awareness is key to diagnosing the condition. DIC patients can present to clinicians who may not be experienced in a variety of aspects of thrombosis and hemostasis. Hence, DIC diagnosis is often only entertained when the patient already developed uncontrollable bleeding or multi-organ failure, all of which represent unsalvage-able scenarios. Beyond the clinical presentations, the main issue with DIC diagnosis is in relation to coagulation test abnormalities. It is widely believed that in DIC, patients will have prolonged prothrombin time (PT) and partial thromboplastin time (PTT), thrombocytopenia, low fibrinogen, and raised D-dimers. Diagnosis of DIC can be elusive during pregnancy and requires vigilance and knowledge of the physiologic changes during pregnancy. It can be facilitated by using a pregnancy specific DIC score including three components: 1) fibrino-gen concentrations; 2) the PT difference – relating to the difference in PT result between the patient’s plasma and the laboratory control; and 3) platelet count. At a cutoff of ≥26 points, the pregnancy specific DIC score has 88% sensitivity, 96% specificity, a positive likelihood ratio (LR) of 22, and a negative LR of 0.125. Management of DIC during pregnancy requires a prompt attention to the underlying condition leading to this complication, including the delivery of the patient, and correction of the hemostatic problem that can be guided by point of care testing adjusted for pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-44
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Blood Medicine
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • DIC
  • hyperfibrinolysis
  • maternal mortality
  • placental abruption
  • pregnancy specific DIC score
  • thrombin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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