IVIG (Intravenous Immunoglobulin)
What is IVIG or Intravenous Immunoglobulin?
IVIG, also called gamma globulin or antibodies, is a highly purified blood product preparation that is derived from large pools of plasma donors. Plasma from approximately 1,000 to 10,000 persons is present in each unit or “lot” of IVIG therapy. While this is a blood product, IVIG available in the United States is purified and carefully screened to be free of all known transmissible diseases, including HIV, hepatitis, malaria, syphilis and many, many others. IVIG therapy is used to treat a variety of neurological and neuromuscular autoimmune disorders that affect the central nervous system, peripheral nerves, neuromuscular junction and muscles.
The Benefits of IVIG Therapy:
The underlying problem in all autoimmune diseases is often similar. One part of your immune system has decided to attack part of your body, instead of defending your body from bacteria and viruses. While the cause of this damage is unknown, IVIG contains antibodies which are believed to block this attack.
Some of the most common neurological autoimmune diseases treated with IVIG therapy in the PNA Infusion Center include: Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP); Multiple Sclerosis (MS); Myasthenia Gravis (MG); Multifocal Motor Neuropathy (MMN); Multifocal Acquired Sensory and Motor Neuropathy (MADSAM); Dermatomyositis, and Polymyositis.
IVIG Treatment Side Effects:
It is fairly common for patients to experience headaches (which can be mild to severe), stiff neck, and fever during or shortly after an infusion. This is called aseptic meningitis syndrome. These symptoms are manageable and can be minimized or prevented by infusing IVIG very slowly. Patients may often feel fatigued or flu type symptoms for a day or two after their infusion.
Variation in blood pressure, shortness of breath, chills, fever, rashes and any allergic reactions must be closely monitored during the infusions. Discuss your questions about side effects or possible allergic reactions with your physician and your infusion nurse.
Dosing and Length of Infusion:
The length of time it takes for an IVIG infusion will vary for each person. On average, it is between 4 to 6 hours. The specific dose ordered by your physician, in addition to your own tolerance to the medication, will determine your length of stay at the Infusion Center.
Usually, an IVIG dose of 2 GMs/kg is divided into 2 doses which would be infused over 2 days. This same dose may be given on alternate days or even divided over 5 days if side effects become a problem. Treatment is usually repeated every 4 to 6 weeks.