At the emergency department, a 70 year old male named Max is admitted because of high fever with chills, and hypotension. He complains of having urinary urgency, frequency and dysuria, or painful urination, for the last few days. A few hours after admission, he rapidly deteriorates and starts to bleed from venipuncture sites. Urine and blood cultures are ordered and are both positive for gram negative rods. Lab tests show low platelet count, and bleeding time, PT and PTT are prolonged, fibrinogen is decreased and d-dimers are elevated. Peripheral blood smear shows schistocytes. Now, there’s also an 18 year old female, named Sylvia, that came in with recurrent severe nose bleeds. She also complains of heavy menstrual periods. Family history reveals her father also suffered from bleeding diathesis. Lab tests show normal platelet count, prolonged bleeding time and PTT, and normal PT.
Both Max and Sylvia are suffering from a hemostasis disorder. Hemostasis disorders, also known as bleeding disorders, can be broadly divided into three groups. The first includes problems with primary hemostasis, which is the formation of the weak platelet plug, and so, they’re referred to as platelet disorders. Now, the second group includes problems with secondary hemostasis, which is making a strong fibrin clot through activation of the intrinsic, extrinsic and common coagulation pathways, and are also known as coagulation disorders. And the last group includes disorders that affect both primary and secondary hemostasis and are known as mixed platelet and coagulation disorders. Okay, in this video, we will focus on mixed platelet and coagulation disorders, that include disseminated intravascular coagulation, or DIC, and von Willebrand disease.