Therapeutic apheresis is an extracorporeal treatment that separates components (liquids and/or solids) from the patient's blood for the treatment of conditions in which a pathogenic substance in the blood is causing morbidity.
This topic review will present an overview of the types of indications for which therapeutic apheresis is effective and practical issues in the apheresis technique. Complications of therapeutic apheresis are discussed separately. (See "Therapeutic apheresis (plasma exchange or cytapheresis): Complications".)
Many of the specific indications for therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) are presented in separate topic reviews on the specific clinical conditions for which TPE is indicated.
The following terminology is used to describe procedures related to plasma exchange:
●Apheresis – An umbrella term for "taking away" a blood component. Apheresis includes plasmapheresis (taking away plasma) and cytapheresis (taking away blood cells). We do not use the term "pheresis," which is a shortened pronunciation (slang) for apheresis.