NYU Langone doctors may recommend a procedure called plasmapheresis, also known as plasma exchange. It is a treatment option for people with certain types of peripheral neuropathy that cause inflammation in the body, such as chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, a neurological disorder that causes progressive weakness and impaired sensory function in the legs and arms.
Blood is composed of several components—red and white blood cells and platelets, which are suspended in plasma. Plasma is the fluid part of the blood that carries the cells and platelets.
During this outpatient procedure, doctors insert a needle into a vein in the arm and use a tube to connect it to a machine that withdraws blood. The machine eliminates the cells causing the inflammation and returns the “cleaned” plasma and other blood components back to the body.
People with peripheral neuropathy may need plasma exchange on an outpatient basis. Side effects include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
Plasma exchange can help people with some forms of peripheral neuropathy enter a state of remission, in which the signs and symptoms of the condition disappear.