Therapeutic Plasmapheresis in Thyrotoxic Patients

Endocrine. 2018 Oct;62(1):144-148. doi: 10.1007/s12020-018-1661-x. Epub 2018 Jul 2.


Purpose: For the treatment of thyrotoxicosis, alternative treatment modalities may be necessary if anti-thyroid drugs cannot be used due to side effects, inefficiencies, or there is a need to start a rapid action such as thyroid storm. By using therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE), it is possible to effectively and rapidly remove the increased thyroid hormones. We evaluated our results and experience on a rapid, effective, and reliable alternative treatment modality in thyrotoxic patients.

Methods: TPE was performed in 46 thyrotoxic patients at the Adult Therapeutic Apheresis Center.

Results: Forty six patients with a median age of 30 years (interquartile range [IQR] 30-50) were assessed. In 40 (87%) of the cases, the diagnosis was Graves' disease. The other causes of thyrotoxicosis were amiodarone-induced thyrotoxicosis (n = 4) and toxic nodular goiter (n = 2). The median and IQR of fT3 values in patients before TPE were 9.9 (6.5-16.8) pg/mL (N: 2.3-4.2) and the median and IQR of fT4 values were 2.9 (2.3-4.1) ng/dL (N: 0.74-1.52). When the procedure was terminated, the median and IQR of fT3 values in patients were 4.0 (3.1-5.2) pg/mL and the median and IQR fT4 values were 1.6 (1.4-2.0) ng/dL. The decrease in both free thyroid hormones was found to be statistically significant (p < 0.000).

Conclusion: Our study is the largest series of TPE in the literature used for thyrotoxicosis. In the light of the literature and our results, we conclude that TPE is an effective alternative treatment option to prepare for ablative treatment for cases that have side effects or ineffectiveness of anti-thyroid drugs.

Keywords: Apheresis; Therapeutic plasma exchange; Thyroid hormones; Thyrotoxicosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plasma Exchange*
  • Plasmapheresis*
  • Thyrotoxicosis / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome