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Exchange transfusion  - series
Exchange transfusion - series


Definition:

Exchange transfusion is a potentially life-saving procedure that is done to counteract the effects of serious jaundice or changes in the blood due to diseases such as sickle cell anemia.

The procedure involves slowly removing the patient's blood and replacing it with fresh donor blood or plasma.

See also: Newborn jaundice



Description:

An exchange transfusion requires that the patient's blood can be removed and replaced. In most cases, this involves placing one or more thin tubes, called catheters, into a blood vessel. The exchange transfusion is done in cycles, each one usually lasts a few minutes.

The patient’s blood is slowly withdrawn (usually about 5 to 20 mL at a time, depending on the patient’s size and the severity of illness). An equal amount of fresh, prewarmed blood or plasma flows into the patient's body. This cycle is repeated until the correct volume of blood has been replaced.

After the exchange transfusion, catheters may be left in place in case the procedure needs to be repeated.

In diseases such as sickle cell anemia, blood is removed and replaced with donor blood.

In conditions such as neonatal polycythemia , a specific amount of the child’s blood is removed and replaced with a normal saline solution, plasma, or albumin (the clear liquid portion of blood). This decreases the total number of red blood cells in the body and makes it easier for blood to flow through the body.



Why the Procedure Is Performed:

An exchange transfusion may be needed to treat the following conditions:



Risks:

General risks are the same as with any transfusion. Other possible complications include:

  • Blood clots
  • Changes in blood chemistry (high or low potassium, low calcium, low glucose, change in acid-base balance in the blood )
  • Heart and lung problems
  • Infection (greatly decreased risk due to careful screening of blood)
  • Shock due to inadequate replacement of blood


Outlook (Prognosis):



Convalescence:

The infant may need to be monitored for several days in the hospital after the transfusion, but the length of stay generally depends on the condition for which the exchange transfusion was performed.




Review Date: 10/19/2007
Reviewed By: Deirdre O’Reilly, MD, MPH, Neonatologist, Division of Newborn Medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston and Instructor in Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts. Review Provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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789 Central Avenue, Dover, NH 03820
Phone: (603) 742-5252
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