The benefits of leukapheresis are directly related to the ultimate goal and purpose of the procedure: reduce the peripheral WBC count. Leukapheresis has been proven to effectively reduce the peripheral WBC count, which is vitally important to those patients producing abnormal levels of WBCs as seen in hyperleukocytosis and leukostasis.
Reduce peripheral WBC count
The direct benefit of leukapheresis is the immediate reduction of peripheral WBC circulating the blood. With this 1-3 hour treatment, WBC count can be drastically reduced and can help alleviate symptoms of hyperleukocytosis from chronic and acute conditions of myelogenous and lymphocytic leukemias.
Reduce blood viscosity
Leukapheresis is a method of reducing blood viscosity that comes in handy when dealing with rare incidences such as priapism, a painful medical condition in which the erect penis, in the absence of sexual stimulation, does not return to its flaccid state within a 4 hour period. An undiagnosed case of CML in a male patient, aged 19 y.o., presented with a case of priapism for over 18 hours. Leukapheresis was used to help reduce blood viscosity to alleviate presented symptoms and prevent tissue-damaging causes of erectile dysfunction. In this particular incidence, hyperleukocytosis was thought to be the cause.
Therapeutic leukapheresis is simply using the procedure to reduce or alleviate symptoms of hyperleukocytosis and leukostasis. Just like therapeutic phlebotomy helps reduce the symptoms of conditions like hemochromatosis and polycythaemia, leukapheresis can be used therapeutically. It has not been shown to improve the mortality of patients experiences these conditions, but quality of life must be considered when administering this procedure. Hyperleukocytosis can present symptoms of anemia, thrombocytopenia, and coagulopathies like disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) that lead to leukostasis.
Precursor to Chemotherapy
Leukapheresis has been suggested as a precursor to induction chemotherapy with presentation of hyperleukocytosis with aims for better prognosis and toleration of chemotherapy.
Treatment option for CML during pregnancy
In recent studies involving treatment options for patients with chemotherapy tolerance obstacles, therapeutic leukapheresis was found to control WBC count effectively. A specific case report involving a pregnant woman with CML and respiratory compromise sought to further the discussion of alternate physiological improvements outside of WBC count. The findings showed improvements in pulmonary function testing (including increases in FEV1 and FVC percentage predicted values) after leukapheresis treatments, although direct correlation could not be established without further investigation.
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