Extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) routinely uses heparin for anticoagulation. For patients with contraindications to heparin, alternative anticoagulation using acid citrate dextrose (ACD-A) has been reported to be safe and effective. However, detailed ECP protocols that exclusively use ACD-A anticoagulation and minimize citrate toxicity have not yet been published. We report a protocol that completely replaces heparin with ACD-A for ECP, which was developed at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and our experience since its implementation. ECP was performed with the UVAR XTS photopheresis system using ACD-A and control of the rate of citrate infusion. Calcium gluconate solution was administered prophylactically and as needed for symptoms of citrate toxicity. The medical records of patients who underwent ECP using the ACD-A protocol between January 2003 and July 2006 were reviewed. The incidence and severity of citrate toxicity and the technical data for all procedures were analyzed. During this period, 94 ECP procedures were performed with ACD-A anticoagulation on five patients. All patients tolerated the procedures well without significant complications. Only minimal symptoms of citrate toxicity (grade 1) were observed in 24.5% of all procedures; symptoms resolved promptly following administration of additional calcium gluconate. In conclusion, an effective protocol for ECP using ACD-A anticoagulation exclusively in patients with contraindications to heparin employs continuous monitoring of flow rates and prophylactic administration of calcium gluconate to minimize citrate toxicity.
- Extracorporeal photopheresis
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