Facts About Intravenous Gamma Globulin (Article 1 of 12)

Posted August 7th, 2011 by LtCol Eugene B Richardson, USA (Retired) BA, MDiv, EdM, MS

PATIENT TO PATIENT – Disclaimer:  Patient to Patient articles are intended to be educational, not diagnostic or prescriptive and the patient is encouraged to seek help from their own private physician.   These articles reflect the subjective experience of the patient while living with neuropathy and Intravenous Gamma Globulin Infusions


Facts About Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg). By LtCol Eugene B Richardson, USA (Retired) BA, MDiv, EdM, MS (Counseling) and patient with CIDP/Autonomic PN for 42 years due to exposure to Agent Orange inVietnam.


What is Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg)?

Dr. Norman Latov, MD PhD of Weill Medical College, Cornell University, states that intravenous gamma globulins or IVIg as it is often known; (a plasma product) consists of purified pooled blood obtained from thousands of individuals.   Everything is removed from the pooled blood except the anti-bodies that help us fight disease and infections. This product is infused intravenously into a patient with an autoimmune neuropathy.  It is thought to work by protecting the patient’s peripheral nerves from the patient’s own immune system (anti-bodies) which are attacking the Peripheral Nerves and when IVIg attaches itself to the patient’s damaged peripheral nerves the damaged nerves function at increased levels.


IG Living is a FREE periodical for patients living on or considering IVIg therapy for autoimmune neuropathies and other illnesses and you may subscribe at: http://www.igliving.com/Subscribe.aspx.  IG Living is the only magazine dedicated to bringing comprehensive healthcare information, immune globulin information, community and reimbursement news and resources for successful living directly to immune globulin consumers and their healthcare providers.

The Alliance for BioTherapeutics, Inc., www.bioalliance.org assists patients who lack access to lifesaving therapies, who have reimbursement restrictions and/or are denied coverage. We also help patients who can no longer afford therapies prescribed by their physicians because of new policy restrictions.

The Medpro website provides an information chart on IVIg brands:  http://www.medprorx.com/forms/MedProRx_IVIg_chart.pdf


What Neuropathies are treated with Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg)?


 IVIg is used for many diseases, the most common of which are patients with immune deficiencies.  Since some neuropathies are immune mediated (involve a malfunctioning immune system), it is used for neuropathy patients with Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS), Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP), Multifocal Motor Neuropathy (MMN), Multifocal Demyelinating Sensorimotor Neuropathy, Autoimmune Autonomic Neuropathy and their variants, plus some Neurologists recommend it for the most serious cases of diabetic neuropathy when the patient’s condition reflect the diagnostic criteria for CIDP. (See “IVIg Effective in Diabetic Related Inflammatory Neuropathy” by Laurie Barclay, MD, University of Miami, May 2002 Issue of Archives of Neurology)


What are the characteristics of Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg) and why are these important?


The product has the characteristics of a thick sponge and this is important for two reasons.


First, as recommended by the manufacturers of pre-bottled brands, the mixture MUST be brought to room temperature BEFORE it is infused into the patient.   Before the product is brought to room temperature it will look cloudy.   It clears when warmed to room temperature.  Unless this is done, the product will often cause difficulty with the infusion machines due to its spongy thickness.  Some patients have experienced more difficulty with some of the normal known temporary reactions (headaches, dizziness, mild flu like symptoms) to the product when it is not brought to room temperature.   The solution:  Bring the product to room temperature before infusion as noted in the product information brochure.


Second, the product tends to draw water to itself and this in some patients may result in fluid build-up in the body that must be addressed during the treatment.  The first nine months of my infusions, I told the infusion clinic that I felt like I was drowning.   Unfamiliar with IVIg, it was difficult for the medical staff to understand and when I insisted there was a problem, clinical denial became a policy of stubborn refusal to listen to the patient.


I ended up in the emergency room with the words, “You are having a heart attack.”   But what I had was fluid retention and this was solved by advice from experienced IVIg patients to which the new neurologist listened.   The solutions:  Use a product brand with the least amount of fluid to product ratio, if fluid retention is an issue.  Consider Lasix IV pre and post infusion.  Slow the infusion to 30ml/hr and keep it there.   Problems solved!


GENERAL:  It is important that the patient or a representative be proactive in reading the product brochure that comes with the product. Follow up testing and blood work may be important and some physicians have ordered the infusion of the product mixed with saline with which it is incompatible.  Physicians and other medical staff may not be familiar with the products use.   While the brochure is very technical, your physician may not be familiar with the product and you must be able to ask the proper questions on follow up blood work and the cautions to patients noted in the product literature.


Copyright 2011 Network for Neuropathy Support, Inc., dba Neuropathy Support Network.  These articles may be reprinted or published for educational purposes as long as the printing or publishing is not for profit and acknowledgement is granted the author.  Contact him at gene@neuropathysupportnetwork.org




Facts About Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg)


My Neuropathy symptoms prior to receiving Intravenous Gamma Globulin


Why I started Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg) and how it happen


My first experience with Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg) (IVIg) in April 2004?


How Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg) Affected My Long Term Neuropathy Symptoms


Surgery while on Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg) with CIDP


What Happened When My Intravenous Gamma Globulin infusion (IVIg) Was Delayed


What Happened When My Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg) Dosage Was Reduced


How Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg) Infusions Has Affected My Life


What Doctors May Consider in Writing the Script for Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg)


Getting Help Accessing Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg) and with Insurance and Product Brand Questions


Critical Needs in Intravenous Gamma Globulin (IVIg) Neuropathy Research and Training


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