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Plasma exchange is another blood purification method that can be used by kidney disease patients. It is the removal, treatment and return of blood plasma from blood circulation. In this treatment, blood is induced out of the body and filtered by a machine. After that, clean blood return back to the body through tubule and meanwhile, some fresh and healthy blood are also added to the body.
Kidney is an organ with function of producing urine and filtering. When kidney function is impaired for some reason, wastes produced in the body will build up in the blood. These toxins circulate with blood and they may reach any part of our body, so internal organs are seriously threatened when kidneys fail. This is the reason why renal replacement therapy is needed when kidneys fail to maintain the normal life.
Plasma exchange is just one of the blood purification methods in medicine. Apart from it, there are hemodialysis, immune adsorption, hemofiltration and hemoperfusion and so on. Different blood purification technics show different effects in treating purifying blood. And for plasma exchange, it is especially effective in removing antibodies, immune complexes and allogenic antigen, so it is highly recommended for patients with immune renal disease. After this treatment, immune complexes and other wastes accumulated in the blood can be successfully cleared away, and this is very helpful for preventing further kidney damages. We know kidney disease deteriorates if further kidney damages can not be avoided, so by plasma exchange, illness progression can be stopped, at least slowed down, to some extent.
Compared with many blood purification methods like hemodialysis, hemoperfusion and hemofiltration, plasma exchange works more effectively and quickly. However, similar with other blood purification technics, plasma exchange also only helps to clean blood and it can not stop the formation of new immune complexes and wastes. Therefore, while treating kidney disease, it is always used together with hormone or immunosuppressive agents.
Plasma exchange plays an important part in the treatment for kidney disease, but it does not mean it is only available for kidney failure patients. In medicine, aside from kidney problem, it is also commonly used to treat poisoning, rheumatic disease, blood diseases, nerve diseases, liver problem and familial hyperlipidemia and so on.