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. 2017 Dec;32(6):479-485.
doi: 10.1002/jca.21544. Epub 2017 May 9.

Membrane Therapeutic Plasma Exchange With and Without Heparin Anticoagulation


Membrane Therapeutic Plasma Exchange With and Without Heparin Anticoagulation

Bruna Brunetta Gavranić et al. J Clin Apher. .


Background: Administration of an anticoagulant during therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) is necessary to avoid circuit clotting and impaired treatment effectiveness. Citrate is the preferred anticoagulant for apheresis worldwide, and unfractionated heparin (UH) is the second most preferred, yet there are only a few published studies regarding the use of UH during TPE. There are even fewer studies regarding the use of low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) and TPE performed without anticoagulation.

Materials and methods: We retrospectively analyzed the database of the Department of Nephrology at Zagreb University Hospital Center from 1982 to 2014 to test the safety of various heparin anticoagulation in TPE. We grouped procedures according to anticoagulation type (UH, LMWH, and no anticoagulation) and compared differences in the use of anticoagulants during our study period, patient populations, replacement fluids, and complications.

Results: Complications were recorded during 11.1% of the 9,501 procedures. The incidence of any recorded complication was significantly higher in the LMWH group (21.2%) compared to the group with no anticoagulation (16.3%) and the UH group (9.5%) (P < 0.001). Similarly, the blood clotting in the extracorporeal circuit was most common in the LMWH group (LMWH, 12.0%; no anticoagulation, 6.3%; UH, 2.4%; P < 0.001). Incidents of bleeding complications were very low and occurred during or after 13 TPE sessions (0.1% of all procedures).

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that TPE procedures can be conducted safely with UH and, when necessary, without anticoagulation. The use of LMWH was associated with more complications when compared with use of UH and to TPE done without anticoagulation. Further studies are necessary to study its use during TPE procedures.

Keywords: anticoagulation; complication; heparin; therapeutic plasma exchange.

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