Plasma exchange in Canada. The Canadian Apheresis Study Group.
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Since 1982 the Canadian Apheresis Study Group (CASG) has collected data on plasma exchange activities in Canada. In 1987, 5907 such procedures were carried out on 700 patients for more than 22 different diseases; this represented an increase of 28% over the figure for 1982. A shift in activity has occurred over the years; originally hematologic disorders accounted for most of the procedures; however, in 1987, 60% of the exchanges were done to treat neurologic disorders, mainly myasthenia gravis and acute and chronic Guillain-Barré syndrome. Several prospective randomized clinical trials have recently been completed by the CASG in the hope of determining the optimal application of plasma exchange. These studies, currently under review, include 168 patients with multiple sclerosis, 100 with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and 43 with rapidly progressive glomerulonephritis. Reactions occur in 12% of cases; they are usually minor and are limited to circumoral paresthesia, mild hypertension or hypotension and hives.
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