Therapeutic apheresis in low weight patients: technical feasibility, tolerance, compliance, and risks

Transfus Apher Sci. 2004 Aug;31(1):3-10. doi: 10.1016/j.transci.2004.01.010.


The use of therapeutic apheresis in very low weight patients is generally thought to have limitations, because of possible severe adverse reactions, potential risk related to the extracorporeal procedure, due to the low weight of the young patients. A careful therapeutic approach using appropriate precautions, and also introducing modifications to the standard procedure, can minimise the risk without compromising the efficacy of the plasmapheresis. The aim of the study was to evaluate apheresis tolerance and acceptability in children [Artif. Organs. 21 (1997) 1126] and infants [J. Clin. Apheresis 5 (1989) 21] with inherited lipid metabolism disorder, familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), primary hyperlipoproteinemia (lipoprotein phenotype I), and acute leukemia, weighing on average 20.55 kg. One thousand one hundred twenty three aphereses were completed. Three types of apheresis were performed: leukapheresis, plasma exchange, dextran sulphate cellulose (DSC) low density lipoprotein (LDL)-apheresis. Three different types of continuous flow systems were used. Technical adaptation depending on patients blood volume, body mass index, hematocrit, type of system used, permitted us to perform complete aphereses, obtaining a high degree of tolerance and acceptability of the treatment. The use of plasmapheresis is regarded to be an extreme therapeutic measure in children. However, when the need for such treatment is undebatable, plasmapheresis must be done. A well-trained and experienced team can overcome the technical difficulties in order to complete the procedures without complications. The most frequently observed adverse effects are vascular relative access insufficiency (2.0%), and mild hypotension (2.0%).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Component Removal / adverse effects
  • Blood Component Removal / methods*
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Developmental Disabilities / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Patient Compliance
  • Thinness / therapy*
  • Weight Gain / physiology