Plasmapheresis is the procedure of removal of some of the plasma from the blood. Doctors perform the plasmapheresis through a machine. The doctor may substitute the removed plasma with a healthy plasma or a plasma substitute. Various conditions require plasmapheresis. These conditions are hemolytic uremic syndrome, fulminant Wilson disease, autoimmune diseases, pancreatitis, thrombocytopenic purpura, and hyperviscosity syndrome. The efficacy and relief depend upon the condition and its severity. In some cases, the patient experiences relief within 1-2 days after the procedure. In other cases, it may take a few weeks until the patient experiences relief in symptoms. In most cases, the patient requires a repetition of the procedure. The patients may also experience certain side effects. These include blurred vision, fatigue, faintness, cramps, and cold. Some patients have an increased risk of blood clotting, infection, and allergic reactions. The doctor may not recommend plasmapheresis to people who have hypocalcemia, are allergic to heparin, and are hemodynamically unstable.
The doctor performs plasmapheresis as an outpatient procedure. The patient has two tubes attached to the body. One tube is for carrying the blood from the body, and the other tubes help in returning the blood to the body. The blood from the body goes into a plasmapheresis machine. The cell separator separates the plasma from the blood cells. One method of separation is to spin the blood at high speed. Another method is to separate the blood cells and plasma through the membrane. The cells of the blood are then mixed with either fresh plasma or a plasma substitute. The machine then returns the blood to the body. Plasmapheresis takes out certain proteins and toxic substances from the blood. The doctor recommends repeating the treatment 1-3 times if required.
It is an outpatient procedure, and you may go home on the day of the procedure. Your doctor may advise you to take some rest before getting discharged from the hospital. You may feel weakness and fatigue after the procedure. Take a nutritive diet and drink plenty of fluid. The doctor may also advise you to visit the hospital for a follow-up. Do not miss these scheduled follow-up visits. If you experience any side effects such as seizures, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, joint pain, excessive fatigue, rashes, allergic reactions, shortness of breath, and abnormal heartbeat, immediately inform your doctor.
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