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J Clin Apher. 1998;13(1):28-31.

Treatment of high-risk, refractory acquired methemoglobinemia with automated red blood cell exchange.

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Therapeutic Apheresis Section, Kidney Disease and Critical Care Associates, PA, Golden Valley, Minnesota, USA.


Ingestion of strong oxidant substances may result in acquired methemoglobinemia, a clinical condition in which the oxidized blood hemoglobin is incapable of delivering oxygen to the tissues, and the patient becomes cyanotic. Traditional first-line therapy consists of infusion of methylene blue, whose action depends on the availability of reduced nicotinamide adenine nucleotide phosphate (NADPH) within the red blood cell (RBC). Some patients, particularly those who are deficient in glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), will not benefit from methylene blue. In these patients, and in some patients who have ingested very strong oxidants, methylene blue may also precipitate Heinz body hemolytic anemia. We present a case of severe, acquired methemoglobinemia in a 26-month-old, 9.8-kg boy with G6PD deficiency. He was cyanotic, in respiratory failure, intubated in a pediatric intensive care unit. In typical fashion, he did not respond to methylene blue. Manual exchange of two whole blood volumes, performed over 4 1/2 hr, also failed to resolve his severe methemoglobinemia. An automated RBC exchange (1.3 RBC volume), lowered his methemoglobin content from 31.8% to 7% in a single 40-min procedure. Thereafter his methemoglobin level continued to decrease rapidly and spontaneously. He was discharged home 2 days later, with 0.4% methemoglobin. To our knowledge, this is the first report to demonstrate the (potentially superior) effectiveness of automated RBC exchange for treatment of patients with high-risk acquired methemoglobinemia, that is, those with G6PD deficiency or who have ingested strong oxidants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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