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Plasma exchange in severe acute relapses of multiple sclerosis – Results from a Portuguese cohort

Published:December 07, 2017DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.msard.2017.12.001

      Highlights

      • PLEX was an effective treatment in severe relapses.
      • The number of sessions should be adjusted to the specific clinic situation.
      • PLEX was a safe treatment for the majority of patients.
      • PLEX is an option for the treatment of relapses without complete recovery after corticosteroids.

      Abstract

      Background

      Relapses in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are often associated with significant disability impairment which is resultant from poor response to corticosteroids. In such severe cases, plasma exchange (PLEX) may be used, although only a few studies with MS patients have been reported. Our objective was to evaluate the effectiveness of PLEX in severe relapses of MS.

      Methods

      Retrospective study of MS patients treated with PLEX in acute relapses. Data regarding EDSS, annualized relapse rate (ARR), treatment with corticosteroids, number of PLEX sessions, adverse events, and gadolinium enhancement in brain MRI were analysed.

      Results

      Included 46 patients, 76.09% female (n = 35) with mean age of 38.76 years and mean disease duration of 5.99 years, of which 84.78% had a Relapsing Remitting MS (n = 39), 15.22% Secondary Progressive MS (n = 7). The previous ARR was 1.1 and in 28.26% of the cases (n = 13) PLEX was used in the relapse that led to MS diagnosis. The majority of relapses had motor impairment (69.6%, n = 32), with a median EDSS increase of 1.5 points from baseline (maximum of 6.5) and higher than 1.5 points in 45.65% of cases (n = 21). Brain MRI was available in 69.57% of the cases (n = 32), and gadolinium enhancing lesions were present in 68.75% of cases (n = 22). Corticosteroids were used before PLEX in all patients for a mean of 6.09 days, without any immediate benefit in 41.30% of cases (n = 19), with the remaining cases showing only mild disability recovery. After a mean of 7.39 PLEX sessions, there was clinical benefit with complete EDSS recovery in 41.30% of patients (n = 19), and partial in 39.13% (n = 18). There were no adverse events related to PLEX in 89.13% of patients (n = 41) and in the remaining patients the reported adverse events included deep venous thrombosis (n = 1), anaemia (n = 1), fever (n = 1), hypoalbuminemia (n = 1) and arterial hypotension (n = 1).

      Conclusion

      Our results support the use of PLEX in severe relapses unresponsive to corticosteroids, since it was an effective and relatively safe treatment for most of our patients.

      Keywords

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