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Your immune system releases antibodies that protect you from harmful substances such as bacteria and fungi. However, sometimes your antibodies may turn against your body and attack a donor organ or healthy body tissues. The Houston Kidney Specialists Center team offers Houston plasmapheresis, which eliminates the harmful antibodies from your body.

An overview of plasmapheresis

Plasmapheresis is a treatment technique that separates your blood cells from your plasma. Another solution, such as albumin or saline, replaces the plasma, or your doctor treats it and returns it to your body. If you are ill, your plasma may contain antibodies that can attack your immune system.

 Houston Kidney Specialists Center team uses state-of-art technology to remove the compromised plasma and replace it with a plasma substitute or healthy plasma. The procedure is medically known as plasma exchange. If the affected plasma is left in your body, the antibodies may attack healthy body tissues resulting in autoimmune disorders. If you are a kidney transplant candidate, the antibodies may cause your body to reject the new organ.

Factors determining whether you need plasmapheresis

The nephrology specialists at Houston Kidney Specialists Center may recommend plasmapheresis for specific forms of kidney disease.

  • Goodpasture syndrome

Goodpasture syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that attacks your kidneys and lungs. Plasmapheresis prevents its progression by eliminating the harmful antibodies.

  • Granulomatosis

Granulomatosis results in blood vessel inflammation in various internal organs such as the kidneys. Plasmapheresis eliminates the disease-producing antibodies from your blood and replaces it with fresh plasma.

Patients requiring kidney transplants can also benefit from plasmapheresis. Some people produce specific antibodies that may increase the risk of organ rejection.

What to expect during plasmapheresis

During the procedure, you may need to lie on a cot. The specialist then places a catheter or a needle into a vein in the arm with the most vital artery. Sometimes, they may put the catheter in the shoulder or groin. The returned or fresh plasma flows into your body via a second tube attached to your foot or arm. Donation sessions usually last for about 90 minutes. If you are the recipient, the procedure may take about three hours, and you may need at least five treatments a week. The frequency of your sessions relies on the medical condition you have and your overall health.

Risks associated with plasmapheresis

Plasmapheresis carries certain risks, but they are usually mild and resolve within no time. The most reported side effect is a decrease in blood pressure accompanied by stomach cramps, dizziness, faintness, blurry vision, and feeling cold. The risks include infection during transfusion, blood clotting, and allergic reactions to the solutions replacing your plasma.

Your doctor may administer an anti-coagulant to minimize your risk of blood clotting. Severe but rare side effects include bleeding due to anticoagulants, tingling sensations in your limbs, and seizures. If you have hypocalcemia, are allergic to frozen albumin or heparin, and cannot tolerate central line placement, the procedure may not suit you.

Call the Houston Kidney Specialists Center office or book an appointment online to discover if you are eligible for plasmapheresis.