Plasma exchange may help treat rare blood clots related to vaccines

August 6, 2021

Plasma exchange machineA plasma exchange machine (pictured above) can remove antibodies from the blood, including those associated with rare vaccine-related blood clots.Canadian researchers have published the first study of plasma exchange as a possible treatment for rare blood clots related to certain COVID-19 vaccines.

Published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the case report focuses on three patients: one from The Ottawa Hospital, one from Toronto and another from Québec. All patients were treated with standard therapies for vaccine-induced blood clots, but did not respond.

Since these clots are caused by antibodies in the blood, the researchers reasoned that removing a patient’s antibodies with a plasma exchange machine might help. All three patients recovered during their hospitalization, although one required a leg amputation.

Vaccine-induced blood clots are very rare, occurring in about 1 in 100,000 doses. Survival ranges from 30% to 60%.

The researchers suggest that plasma exchange may be an effective treatment for these blood clots if other treatments fail, but further research is needed to confirm this.

Authors: Patriquin CJ, Laroche V, Selby R, Pendergrast J, Barth D, Côté B, Gagnon N, Roberge G, Carrier M, Castellucci LA, Scarvelis D, Mack JP.

The Ottawa Hospital is a leading academic health, research and learning hospital proudly affiliated with the University of Ottawa and supported by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation. 

Media Contact 
Jenn Ganton