Apheresis

Apheresis is a procedure that involves removing whole blood from the vein of a patient or donor.

Overview

What is apheresis?

Apheresis is a procedure that involves removing whole blood from the vein of a patient or donor. The blood is then separated using an apheresis machine so that one or more specific blood components can be removed.

Apheresis is a painless procedure and takes approximately two hours, or only slightly longer than a conventional blood donation.

What is apheresis used for?

Apheresis is used for the treatment for certain medical conditions, such as blood disorders and some cancers, in which a part of the blood that might contain disease-provoking elements is removed.

It may also be used for donor collection of specific blood components such as plasma, platelet cells and red blood cells. These components are then used to treat patients with a variety of disorders.

Possible side effects of apheresis

Apheresis may cause minor side effects that usually resolve quickly, such as pain or bruising at the removal site or feeling dizzy and lightheaded. These are similar to the minor complications you may expect from a normal blood donation.

More serious complications are rare, but can occur especially when apheresis is used for the treatment of more serious blood disorders and cancers. Complications can include:

  • bleeding and or increased risk of bleeding
  • infection and or increased risk of infection
  • low blood pressure
  • muscle cramping
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