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Guidelines Recommend Plasma Exchange for MS

American Academy of Neurology Says Treatment Works for Some Types of Multiple Sclerosis

Slow and Costly

“Plasmapheresis is effective in very specific circumstances when you have acute disorders, but it is not a treatment for chronic diseases,” says Nancy L. Sicotte, MD, a neurologist and the multiple sclerosis program director at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

There may be a bigger role for plasmapheresis for a subset of people with MS, she says. “Some MS patients seem to respond very well and there are others that don’t and there is some evidence that the ones who may be responding may have particular forms of MS such as neuromyelitis optica.”

As it stands, “we do this when steroids don’t work, but not because another marker says this is likely to help,” Sicotte says.

Plasma exchange is time-consuming to administer and costly, and it can take several days to know if it was effective, so it would be helpful to know if someone was likely to benefit before initiating the therapy,  she says.

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