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Plasmapheresis


Overview :

The basic procedure consists of removal of blood, separation of blood cells from plasma, and return of these blood cells to the body's circulation, diluted with fresh plasma or a substitute. Because of concerns over viral infection and allergic reaction, fresh plasma is not routinely used. Instead, the most common substitute is saline solution with sterilized human albumin protein. During the course of a single session, two to three liters of plasma is removed and replaced.

Plasmapheresis requires insertion of a venous catheter, either in a limb or central vein. Central veins allow higher flow rates and are more convenient for repeat procedures, but are more often the site of complications, especially bacterial infection.

When blood is outside the body, it must be treated to prevent it from clotting. While most of the anticlotting agent is removed from the blood during treatment, some is returned to the patient.

Three procedures are available:

  • "Discontinuous flow centrifugation." Only one venous catheter line is required. Approximately 300 ml of blood is removed at a time and centrifuged to separate plasma from blood cells.
  • "Continuous flow centrifugation." Two venous lines are used. This method requires slightly less blood volume to be out of the body at any one time.
  • "Plasma filtration." Two venous lines are used. The pasma is filtered using standard hemodialysis equipment. It requires less than 100 ml of blood to be outside the body at one time.

A single plasmapheresis session may be effective, although it is more common to have several sessions per week over the course of two weeks or more.




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