A study was planned to determine whether or not disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) contributes to the pathogenesis of idiopathic respiratory distress syndrome (IRDS) and to ascertain the possible role of DIC in the production of the intracranial hemorrhages (ICH) frequently found at autopsy in IRDS.
Conclusive evidence of DIC was found in only two of 11 infants; one had DIC on day one and died; the other developed DIC on day eight while on the respirator and survived. Four of the remaining nine infants died. Autopsies were performed on three and showed extensive hyaline membranes and atelectasis in all and severe ICH in two. No postmortem evidence of DIC was found.
These data do not suggest that DIC plays a major role in the pathogenesis of IRDS, nor that it is an important contributing factor in the high mortality and frequent ICH in IRDS.