What Is Plasmapheresis?

Plasmapheresis, also known as therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE), is a therapy that removes and replaces the plasma in your blood. Your plasma is the liquid part of your blood. 

If you have a rare disease and your doctor has recommended that you have plasma therapy, your doctor may recommend plasmaphereis.

During plasmapheresis, a machine will remove your blood through a catheter. Your blood then travels through the catheter and into the machine. In the machine it gets separated into:

  • red blood cells,
  • white blood cells,
  • platelets, and
  • plasma.

The machine will get rid of your own plasma and replace it with a safe fluid called substitute plasma. Then, the substitute plasma and your own blood cells (which include red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets) will be returned to you through a needle.

We offer plasmapheresis at the Acute Dialysis Unit at University of Utah Hospital. One of our nephrologists (kidney doctors) will monitor you during plasmapheresis. 

What Conditions Does Plasmapheresis Treat?

Sometimes, people with rare diseases need to have their plasma replaced so they can get healthier. Doctors use plasmapheresis to treat a variety of conditions, including the following: 

  • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Neuromyelitis optica (NMO)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Guillian-Barre syndrome
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP)
  • Goodpasture's syndrome
  • Rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis (RPGN)
  • Systemic vasculitis
  • Transplant sensitization
  • Transplant rejection (antibody type)
  • Recurring post-transplant focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS)
  • Immune thrombocytopenia
  • Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia
  • Hyperviscosity syndrome
  • Other rare diseases

Find a Plasmapheresis Specialist