What Are Some Side Effects of Plasmapheresis?


Quick Answer

Common side effects of plasmapheresis, a procedure used to treat multiple sclerosis and some autoimmune diseases, include weakness, nausea and tiredness, says the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Some patients may experience allergic reactions, bleeding, immune suppression and, in rare cases, a blood clot may form in the machine, says WebMD.

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Full Answer

Plasmapheresis is a blood-cleansing procedure used to treat sudden and severe attacks of symptoms of multiple sclerosis and autoimmune disorders such as Guillain-Barré syndrome and myasthenia gravis. In the procedure, an affected person's blood is removed and the plasma — the liquid part of blood — is separated from the blood cells, says WebMD. Plasma from a healthy donor and the red and white blood cells are transfused back into the person. It is thought that people suffering from these conditions improve after the therapy because the antibodies associated with the disease circulate in the plasma, says the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The treatment takes two to four hours, and the patient may resume normal activity right away, says WebMD. Since blood pressure is lowered during the procedure, the patient may experience side effects typical of low blood pressure, including weakness, dizziness, nausea and tiredness. Drinking a lot of water the day before the procedure may help prevent these side effects.

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