What is the difference between plasmapheresis and cytapheresis?

Updated: Mar 08, 2021
  • Author: Elliot Stieglitz, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

Although the term plasmapheresis technically refers only to the removal of plasma, it is also widely used to encompass therapeutic plasma exchange in which a replacement product is transfused after removal of the plasma. [16]

As distinct from plasmapheresis, cytapheresis is the selective removal of RBCs, WBCs, or platelets and can be accomplished by using identical centrifuge-based equipment. Applications include the following:

  • Erythrocytapheresis (selective removal of RBCs) is used in conditions such as sickle cell disease or malarial infection, in which RBCs are selectively removed and replaced with donor erythrocytes
  • Leukapheresis (selective removal of WBCs) is used in conditions such as hyperleukocytosis, in which pathologically high number of white cells are present (as, for example, in leukemia); it can also be used to collect peripherally circulating stem cells that can then be infused in an autologous or allogeneic stem cell transplant
  • Platelet apheresis (selective removal of platelets) can be used in conditions of thrombocytosis (eg, polycythemia vera)

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!