Definition of Plasmapheresis
Plasmapheresis: A procedure in which whole blood is taken from a person and separated into plasma and blood cells; the plasma is removed and replaced with another solution, such as saline solution, albumin, or specially prepared donor plasma; and the reconstituted solution is then returned to the patient. Plasmapheresis is used in the treatment of many different conditions, including autoimmune disorders. When the plasma is removed, it takes with it the antibodies that have been developed against self-tissue in an attempt to reduce the attack on the patient's own body. Plasmapheresis carries with it the same risks as any intravenous procedure but is otherwise generally safe.
Last Editorial Review: 3/19/2012
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