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September 11, 1995

What About Plasma?

Author Affiliations

San Francisco, Calif

Arch Intern Med. 1995;155(16):1817. doi:10.1001/archinte.1995.00430160171020

The article by Vermeulen et al1 proposes guidelines for the use of albumin, nonprotein colloid, and crystalloid solutions for various clinical indications. Unfortunately, the report contains a dangerous flaw in the guidelines listed in Table 4.

Under the listing for plasmapheresis, the table states that albumin and crystalloid solutions are "appropriate" for large-volume plasma exchange. However, in the case of microangiopathic syndromes such as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and hemolytic uremic syndrome, plasma is the replacement fluid of choice for large-volume plasmapheresis.2,3 Substitution of albumin or crystalloid may have life-threatening consequences for patients with these diseases and would be inappropriate.

Although the authors may not have intended this interpretation, an obvious concern is that the guidelines in Table 4 might be used to exclude appropriate replacement fluids for plasma exchange, resulting in a fatal outcome for severely ill patients. To avoid this problem, alternative therapeutic options need to be