Plasmapheresis
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings
Answers

What are Plasmapheresis?

Plasmapheresis is done to exchange plasma in the blood. Plasma is the liquid part of the blood that does not contain cells. Once the plasma is removed, fresh plasma or a plasma substitute is added back to the blood.

Plasmapheresis removes autoantibodies from the blood. Autoantibodies are proteins found in plasma. They mistakenly attack your body’s own tissues. In some cases, this procedure is used to remove toxins or metabolic substances from the blood.

Plasmapheresis is used to treat the following:

  • Autoimmune diseases—conditions that occur when the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and organs
  • Neurological diseases—disorders affecting the nervous system
  • Very high levels of cholesterol that are not reduced by diet and medicines
  • Toxins that can get into your blood

Possible Complications

Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have plasmapheresis, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Anaphylaxis—a dangerous allergic reaction to the solutions used in plasma replacement, which usually starts with itching, wheezing, or a rash.
  • Mild allergic reaction to the procedure—may cause fever, chills, or rash
  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Bruising or swelling

Plasmapheresis may not be appropriate for people with certain clotting disorders.

Call Your Doctor

After you leave the hospital, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Excessive bruising, bleeding, or swelling at the needle insertion sites
  • Signs...
 
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