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Recommendations for the Use of Therapeutic Plasma

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Four approved plasma preparations are available in most European countries: fresh frozen plasma, lyophilized plasma, solvent/detergent(SD)-treated plasma and methylene blue/light-treated plasma. Evidence of the clinical efficacy of plasma is mainly based on controlled or uncontrolled observational studies, case reports or expert opinion. As definitions of evidence grades used in previous guidelines and recommendations are sophisticated and difficult to apply to clinical routine, we established a simple system involving 2 recommendation strengths (1 and 2) and 3 evidence grades (A, B, C). Plasma is indicated for complex coagulopathy associated with manifest or imminent bleeding, particularly microvascular bleeding, in massive transfusion, disseminated intravascular coagulation and liver disease. With the exception of emergency situations when clotting assay results are not available on time, a clinically relevant coagulopathy must be verified before plasma is administered. The rapid infusion of at least 10 ml of plasma per kg of body weight is required to increase the respective clotting factor or inhibitor levels significantly. Therapeutic plasma exchange with 40 ml of plasma per kg of body weight is the treatment of first choice in acute thrombotic-thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) or adult hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Rare indications are congenital factor V or FXI deficiency, plasma exchange in neonates with severe hemolysis or hyperbilirubinemia, and filling of the oxygenator in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in neonates. Prothrombin complex concentrates should be preferred to plasma for the rapid reversal of oral anticoagulation, since plasma is less efficient in this setting. Side effects resulting from the administration of plasma are rare but have to be considered.

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Keywords: Plasma; dosing; evidence; indications; side effects

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2009

More about this publication?
  • Vascular disease is the commonest cause of death in Westernized countries and its incidence is on the increase in developing countries. It follows that considerable research is directed at establishing effective treatment for acute vascular events. Long-term treatment has also received considerable attention (e.g. for symptomatic relief). Furthermore, effective prevention, whether primary or secondary, is backed by the findings of several landmark trials.

    Vascular disease is a complex field with primary care physicians and nurse practitioners as well as several specialties involved. The latter include cardiology, vascular and cardio thoracic surgery, general medicine, radiology, clinical pharmacology and neurology (stroke units). Current Vascular Pharmacology will publish reviews to update all those concerned with the treatment of vascular disease. For example, reviews commenting on recently published trials or new drugs will be included. In addition to clinically relevant topics we will consider 'research-based' reviews dealing with future developments and potential drug targets. Therefore, another function of Current Vascular Pharmacology is to bridge the gap between clinical practice and ongoing research.

    Debates will also be encouraged in the correspondence section of this journal.
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