Plasmapheresis in nephrology: an update

Tahmina Rahman, Lorraine Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: In the past, recommendations for the use of plasmapheresis were based on findings reported from pilot studies or anecdotes. New results from several randomized controlled trials have changed the indications for the use of plasma exchange.

RECENT FINDINGS: A large randomized controlled study of patients with antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody associated vasculitis showed benefit of plasmapheresis in those with severe renal disease. Patients receiving plasmapheresis compared with methylprednisolone as adjuvant therapy were more likely to be alive and dialysis independent. Plasmapheresis, following publication of a recent randomized controlled trial, should no longer be used for patients with myeloma and acute renal failure. Standard therapy with five to seven plasma exchanges was compared with standard therapy alone. There was no difference in those patients reaching the composite endpoints between the two treatments. New indications include desensitization protocols, using plasmapheresis and intravenous immunoglobulin, which have allowed transplantation across immunological barriers. Highly sensitized patents and ABO incompatible patients compared with their potential donors are now being transplanted with excellent results. Studies still need to be done to assess the best desensitization protocol.

SUMMARY: The use of plasmapheresis requires further validation by randomized clinical trials. Recent published trials should alter practice but further studies are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)603-9
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Nephrology and Hypertension
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2006


  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases
  • Kidney Transplantation
  • Nephrology
  • Plasma Exchange
  • Plasmapheresis


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