Plasmapheresis is the removal of “rubbish” from our blood.
50-55% of our blood is water where different substances are dissolved. They get there from the intestine and body cells. Blood is a transport delivering a variety of substances from one organ to another.
What blood contains? Its plasma dissolves fats, proteins, carbohydrates, hormones, vitamins. But apart from that it contains harmful substances.
This rubbish is “glued” to the cells of erythrocytes causing an increase of blood viscosity. Plasmapheresis helps to reduce viscosity and to make kidneys, liver, heart, brain and endocrine system work better.
History of the method
The method dates back to the use of blood-letting as a treatment of any disease. For a long time this “barbarian” way of therapy was forgotten by doctors but in the middle of the 20th century experts started attempts of creation of special device. Such device had to separate blood into phases and remove its liquid portion to obtain therapeutic effect.
In the end of last century plasmapheresis has been actively used in the United States. But clinical researches require many years. Because of this the effectiveness of the method has not been proved yet. Scientists continued to study plasmapheresis. And their efforts gave to medicine effective method of blood cleaning. Currently removal of “contaminated” plasma is considered as very effective method of treatment at many pathologies.
Physiological effect of the procedure
Plasmapheresis allows to clean the organism from residual products of metabolism (urea, creatinine), antibodies, antigens, hormones and other harmful substances.
Partial plasma removal provokes hypovolemia that activates immunodefence. In addition the liquid from tissues flows into the vessels to restore blood volume. This reduces swelling and toxic effect of harmful substances for a few hours.
However the amount of toxins in the blood is restored again in one day. Therefore experts recommend a course of plasmapheresis consisted of 3 or 4 visits. Each subsequent procedure causes cleaning of the next level: first vessels, then tissues, then cells. The rheological properties of blood is changed in a positive way. Excessive viscosity is eliminated. This effect intensifies blood flow and oxygen supply of organs and tissues. As the result general condition of the organism improves and adaptive capacities increase.
But it is not reasonable to suppose that plasmapheresis will solve all the problems. It is necessary to make complex treatment of any disease using recommendations of doctor.
Who needs plasmapheresis
Plasmapheresis is a cleaning of the body. It is recommended for the treatment of diseases of almost all human organs and systems.
Relative contraindications for plasmapheresis are:
- gastrointestinal tract pathologies: ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease;
- cardiovascular disorders: myocarditis, rheumatism and so on;
- allergy: atopic dermatitis, hay fever etc.;
- dermatological diseases: psoriasis, pemphigus, herpes and others;
- renal diseases: glomerulonephritis, urinary tract infection and so on;
- respiratory system diseases: asthma, hemosiderosis;
- liver diseases: autoimmune hepatitis;
- systemic vasculitis;
Gynecologists recommend plasmapheresis if the woman suffers from toxicosis of pregnancy.
The list of indications is very long. There are about 200 diseases when plasmapheresis can be successfully used.
Contraindications for plasmapheresis are:
- ulcer bleeding;
- coagulation disorders;
- all types of shock;
- severe liver diseases, acute viral hepatitis;
- anemia in combination with heart diseases if the patient older than 70 years.
Special preparation is not required. Typically the procedure is carried out in special hospital room or directly in the ward. Patient lies on a special couch and takes a comfortable position. Special catheter used like in medicine dropper.
Heparin is used to avoid thrombus formation. The procedure lasts for about 1-2 hours. The duration depends on the method and volume of the blood cleaned. During all manipulations patient is constantly under the supervision of a physician.
Plasmapheresis apparatus is able to process about 100 ml of blood in a minute, i.e. it is possible to remove about 800 ml of excess liquid in an hour. Experts recommend removing no more than one quarter of the circulating plasma within one session. Doctors calculates this figure depending on the individual characteristics of the patient: weight and blood volume (CBV). It is important to comply with all the proportions. Benefits and harms of treatment depend on many factors including the accuracy of the calculations and the professionalism of doctors.
Plasmapheresis is an innovative method that helps many patients to get over their illnesses and clean the blood from “dirty” plasma. This procedure is recommended for a huge number of diseases and has few contraindications. Among positive influence of considered procedure are improving the general condition, activization of protective and compensatory functions, normalization of rheological parameters of blood and others.
Plasmapheresis (when qualified doctors provides the procedure with compliance with necessary instructions) yields good results in therapy of rare diseases.
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