Introduction: Exposure to arsine gas can cause fatal hemolysis and multiorgan damage. Whole blood exchange transfusion and hemodialysis have been recommended to treat severe acute arsine poisoning, but are associated with significant complications and sub-optimal outcomes. Plasma exchange is another method of blood purification technique but there are no data on its use in acute arsine poisoning. This retrospective study evaluated the clinical and effects and arsenic clearance from the use of plasma exchange treatment of patients with acute arsine poisoning.
Methods: Data from patients with severe acute arsine poisoning, treated with plasma exchange from December 2000 to December 2005 were collected and analyzed. Measured laboratory factors, performed before and after plasma exchange treatment included routine biochemistry and hematology tests as well as arsenic concentrations in blood, urine, and discarded plasma.
Results: During the study period, 12 patients with severe acute arsine poisoning were treated with plasma exchange. Plasma exchange was performed one or two times on each patient, during which the replacement fluid was fresh frozen plasma (total volume ranged from 1,400 to 4,000 mL). The range of concentrations of arsenic in discarded plasma was 27.7 to 88.7 mg/L and the range of total arsenic removed by plasma exchange was 55.4 to 177.4 mg. Plasma exchange appears to rapidly terminate arsine-induced hemolysis and favorably modify damage to the kidneys and other organs. Laboratory factors that showed significant association with treatment response were creatine kinase, lactate dehydrogenase, blood urea nitrogen, total bilirubin, and heart-related enzymes. All patients recovered from the poisoning and were in good condition at a 2 to 3 months follow-up.
Conclusions: Plasma exchange appears to be an effective treatment intervention for patients with severe acute arsine poisoning. It is suggested that it be used as early as possible.