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.

  • Call Your Doctor

    Call your doctor if any of the following occurs:

    • Excessive bruising, bleeding, or swelling at the needle insertion sites
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Seizures
    • Excessive itching or rash
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    • Feeling lightheaded, or fainting
    • Severe pain
    • Cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, or chest pain
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Abdominal pain
    • Joint pain, fatigue, stiffness, or other new symptoms

    If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

  • Definition

    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.

  • What to Expect

  • Reasons for Procedure

    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
    • Neurological diseases
    • Very high levels of cholesterol that are not reduced by diet and medications
    • Toxins that can get into your blood

  • Possible Complications

    Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like

    • 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, such as fever, chills, or rash
    • Infection
    • Bleeding
    • Drop in blood pressure
    • Bruising or swelling

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