Purpose of review: This review examines the literature published on therapeutic plasma exchange during 2002. The review was performed by searching Medline for pertinent articles.
Recent findings: One hundred thirty articles were identified, of which 11 are reviewed. During the period, reviews of the use of therapeutic plasma exchange for managing Guillain-Barré syndrome and myasthenia gravis were published. A large randomized trial of the use of plasma exchange to treat sepsis also appeared. Finally, a large case series of the use of plasma exchange in Wegener granulomatosis was published.
Summary: The literature confirms the use of plasma exchange for Guillain-Barré syndrome but suggests that inadequate evidence exists to support its use for long-term improvement in myasthenia gravis. The study of patients with severe sepsis suggests that plasma exchange may benefit a subset of patients, those with abdominal infections. Finally, plasma exchange for Wegener granulomatosis with severe renal dysfunction appears not to offer any benefit over immunosuppressive therapy.