Reply To: Please Educate Me On Plasmapheresis

June 28, 2017 at 2:03 am

I had plasma xchange when IvIg seemed to be ineffective. I had nine exchanges over nearly a three-week period, administered through a Quinton catheter in my groin. My recovery began near the end of the procedures and I have had no relapse.

1. It isn’t just scrubbing antibodies. The blood is separated in a centrifuge, and the plasma (which contains the antibodies) is removed. New plasma replaces it, hence “plasma exchange.”

I was in hospital when I had it. A procedure was two to three hours every other day or two. It was painless and I slept through most of them. Just the one catheter in the groin for me, except that I also had a PICC line in one arm. The PICC line is for a different purpose.

2. There is no medical procedure without risk. In my case there were no complications and I was in the ICU when it was started, so plenty of expert help nearby. Discuss with the doctor who would oversee the procedure, who likely would be someone other than your neurologist.

3. Impossible to say whether the procedure was the reason for my recovery, but I did recover. I first had two loading doses of IvIg which failed to halt my decline, so I was switched to PE. As I wrote, every other day or two for nine procedures. I understand that five procedures is typical. I think more is better. I feel fortunate to have received nine. I started to recover after about seven.

4. No side effects for me. Yes, it is expensive, but so is IvIg.

There are no guarantees. Your results may vary.