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  What is Plasma Exhange  CIDPUSA Foundation

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Other Frequently Asked Questions (please contact your physician for more detailed medical information)

Q. Are there any side-effects of this procedure?

A. The initial insertion of the needles may cause some discomfort. The needles have to remain in place during the procedure (about two to four hours). Keeping the arms in one position and staying relatively still may be uncomfortable.

Sometimes it is not possible to achieve adequate blood flow from arm veins. Therefore, a catheter needs to be placed which involves minor surgery. Although the blood cell separators remove only a small portion of blood from the patient at any one time, the changes in blood volume or the type of replacement fluid utilized may make some patients feel dizzy or light-headed. Patients should immediately tell the medical staff if they begin to feel uncomfortable.

The anticoagulant used to keep the blood from clotting and certain types of replacement fluids might cause a patient to notice a sour taste in the mouth, tingling around the lips, or sharp pains, like pins being stuck in the fingers or toes. Patients should immediately tell the medical staff if they have any of these symptoms.

Q. Is Plasma Exchange a safe medical procedure?

A. Approximately 300,000 plasma exchange procedures are performed worldwide each year with

few problems. Another one million procedures, which are similar to plasma exchange, are performed

each year on volunteer donors to collect plasma and platelets, again with few problems.

Q. Are there any reactions or lasting side effects?

A. Some patients feel tired after a plasma exchange procedure and require rest. Side effects during the procedure might include feeling dizzy, light-headed, nauseated, and cold. Some patients may feel tingling in the fingers and around the mouth. It is extremely important for patients to notify the medical

staff immediately if they feel these symptoms or feel uncomfortable. The medical staff can slow down or stop

the procedure for a short time before deciding whether to continue.

Q. How long does a Plasma Exchange take?

A. This varies from patient to patient and with the type of blood cell separator utilized. The blood cell separators usually perform a plasma exchange in approximately two hours.

Q. Are patients left on their own?

A. No. The medical staff will be there all the time. A physician generally examines a patient before the procedure begins and is available nearby throughout the procedure.

Q. How often do Plasma Exchanges need to be performed?

A. The number of plasma exchanges varies, according to the disease treated and patient response. The physician monitors the clinical response and determines the necessary number and frequency of plasma exchanges to

be performed.

Q. Can patients catch a disease from the supplies being used?

A. No. The blood tubing set and needles are sterile, used only one time, and then discarded. Anticoagulant,

normal saline, and albumin replacement fluid are also sterile solutions. There is some risk of disease transmission when fresh frozen plasma is used as a replacement fluid.

Q. Can a patient have something to eat or drink during a procedure?

A. Thereís generally no reason why most patients canít eat or drink during the procedure. A patient should

drink some fluids and use the bathroom before the procedure begins.

Q. Can a patient have visitors?

A. Once the procedure is under way, you are usually allowed visitors. If there are any other questions you would like to have answered, ask the medical staff or physician.

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