The goals of testing are to identify DIC, evaluate its severity, and to monitor its effects over time. There is not a single test that can be used to definitely diagnose DIC. A healthcare practitioner will consider many factors when assessing a person who may have this condition, such as signs and symptoms, presence of an underlying condition, physical examination, and medical history.
The severity and extent of DIC can change over time so laboratory testing is often performed at several intervals to monitor a person's status. Some routine tests that may be performed include:
- CBC (complete blood count) – includes a platelet count; in DIC, platelets are often low.
- Blood smears from individuals with DIC often show decreased number of platelets and presence of large platelets and fragmented red cells (schistocytes).
- PT (prothrombin time) – often prolonged with DIC as coagulation factors are consumed
- PTT (partial thromboplastin time) – may be prolonged
- D-dimer – a test that detects a protein that results from clot break-down; it is often markedly elevated with DIC; if normal, then DIC is unlikely.
- Fibrinogen – one of the clotting factors; is low with DIC
A test scoring system developed by the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis may be used to evaluate a group of test results to help determine if DIC is present. The score is based on the results of a platelet count, PT, D-dimer (or fibrin degradation products) and fibrinogen. The higher the score, the more likely it is that DIC is present.
As DIC can affect the health and function of several organs, more general testing, such as a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), may be ordered to evaluate, for example, the functional status of kidneys and liver. Additionally, several other tests may be ordered to help detect the underlying disease or condition that is causing a person to develop DIC.
An x-ray or other imaging scan is sometimes performed to help locate blood clots and evaluate organs.