Blood Journal
Leading the way in experimental and clinical research in hematology

The hemostatic imbalance of plasma-exchange transfusion

  1. MA Flaum,
  2. RA Cuneo,
  3. FR Appelbaum,
  4. AB Deisseroth,
  5. WK Engel, and
  6. HR Gralnick


Plasma exchange has been proposed as a treatment for multiple disorders. Three patients with amyotropic lateral sclerosis, who were hemostatically normal, were studied through a total of 11 4-liter exchanges. Plasma was replaced by an equal volume of 5% albumin or 5% plasma protein fraction. Serial studies revealed that immediately after the exchange transfusion, there was significant prolongation of the prothrombin, partial thromboplastin, and thrombin times with reduction of the fibrinogen and antithrombin III levels. Factors V, VII-X, IX, and X were all significantly decreased, as were the factor VIII antigen, procoagulant, and the ristocetin cofactor activities. Platelet counts were obtained before and after exchanges and revealed significant decreases. Four hours after exchange, all parameters remained abnormal except the factor IX, ristocetin cofactor, and factor VIII procoagulant activities. By 24 hr, all hemostatic parameters had returned to normal. These studies indicate that plasma-exchange transfusion with material devoid of coagulation factors results in a coagulation defect that may be of clinical significance in a hemostatically compromised patient.