What Conditions Can Plasmapheresis Treat?
Plasmapheresis is a type of treatment process involving the removal of harmful antibodies, cryoglobulin, endotoxin, immune complex, myeloma light chains, cholesterol-containing lipoprotein, or another substance from a patient's blood. While plasmapheresis is similar to dialysis in its mechanism, it specifically filters the problematic substance from the plasma component of the blood. A healthy individual does not have harmful antibodies that can cause damage to other body tissues, but individuals affected by autoimmune diseases and disorders do. Each session can last anywhere from one to three hours depending on what needs to be filtered, and if anything needs to be augmented before the plasma is returned to the patient's body. The frequency of treatment sessions is dependent on the rate of the individual's production of the problem substance. Plasmapheresis can be utilized to help treat the symptoms of numerous disorders, but it does not remove the source of the disorder.
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Multiple sclerosis is a disabling disease that causes damage in an affected individual's spinal cord and brain. Patients with multiple sclerosis have an immune system that inappropriately attacks the protective myelin sheath surrounding the nerves. Without the myelin, nerves become damaged and can no longer transmit nerve signals correctly. Multiple sclerosis patients have problems with their vision, muscle control, balance, and other functions. Plasmapheresis is a form of treatment used for multiple sclerosis to mediate sudden attacks or flare-ups. Certain proteins in the affected individual's plasma cause the immune system to attack the myelin sheath that protects the nerve cells in the central nervous system. Plasmapheresis is able to remove these proteins from a patient's plasma and reduce the effects and complications that occur with multiple sclerosis relapses. Plasmapheresis needs to begin within twenty days of when the patient started to experience symptoms of a relapse. Plasmapheresis is a short-term solution for multiple sclerosis management that requires weekly visits to a medical facility to receive the treatment.
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