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Cobe Optia

The Cobe Spectra or Spectra Optia is used for
plasmapheresis. Shown here is the Spectra Optia.

Plasmapheresis, also known as therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE), is a nonsurgical therapy that removes and replaces a patient's blood plasma.

The Apheresis Program at UC San Diego Health System is the most established outpatient therapeutic plasmapheresis center in San Diego County.

Plasmapheresis involves removing blood through a needle or catheter and circulating it through a machine where the blood is separated into red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma. The plasma, which is the fluid content of the blood, is discarded and replaced with a substitution fluid (mainly albumin solution). The substitute plasma and the patient's own blood cells (red cells, white cells and platelets) are returned to the patient through a return needle.

Vic Burton

Vic Burton (third from left) is honored at his 1000th plasmapheresis treatment. His medical team and UC San Diego Health System executives showed their support.

What does plasmapheresis treat?


Potential Side Effects

Physician and Patient

Plasmapheresis is a safe procedure with a few possible side effects. You may have discomfort at the needle site and occasional fatigue, low blood pressure, dizziness, feeling cold and tingling in the fingers and around the mouth. Notify your nurse immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Download a plasmapheresis patient handout to learn more or go to Patient Resources.