Immunoglobulin Therapy

Immunoglobulin Therapy

(Intravenous Immunoglobulin [IVIg; IgG])

How to Say It: Im-mu-no-glob-u-lin

Definition

Immunoglobulin therapy (IgG) is the use of donated immunoglobulins from a healthy person. These are special proteins in the blood that fight infection. They are also known as antibodies.

Immune System

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Reasons for Procedure

IgG is used to treat problems with the immune system. This can be from:

  • The body attacking its own healthy cells
  • Having repeated infections because the body cannot fight them
  • Diseases that make the immune system weak

IgG can also lower inflammation in the body. This makes the immune system work better.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Kidney damage
  • A reaction to the IgG

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The care team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take

Description of the Procedure

An IV needle will be placed into a vein in the arm. A small tube is left in the arm when the needle is removed. This lets the fluid drain into the vein. The solution is in a bag. It hangs above and next to you.

How Long Will It Take?

About 5 to 6 hours

Will It Hurt?

Most people do not have lasting pain.

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital

Right after the procedure, the staff may:

  • Monitor you for side effects
  • Schedule another IgG if needed

At Home

Most people start to feel better 1 to 2 days after the IgG. Some people may not feel better for 3 to 4 weeks.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if you are not feeling better or you have:

  • Redness and swelling at the IV site
  • A headache that does not go away
  • Breathing problems
  • Lightheadedness
  • Blue tint to the skin, lips, or nails
  • Hives, rash, or itching
  • Speaking problems
  • Confusion
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or belly cramps

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.

RESOURCES:

American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association
https://www.aarda.org
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
https://www.niaid.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian AIDS Society
https://www.cdnaids.ca

References:

Hoernes M, Seger R, et al. Modern management of primary B-cell immunodeficiencies. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2011 Dec;22(8):758-769.
IgG deficiency. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/igg-deficiency. Accessed December 9, 2020.
Immunoglobulin (IgG) replacement therapy. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. Available at: https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions-dictionary/immunoglobulin-(IgG)-replacement-therapy. Accessed December 9, 2020.
Immunoglobulin therapy & other medical therapies for antibody deficiencies. Immune Deficiency Foundation website. Available at: https://primaryimmune.org/treatment-information/immunoglobulin-therapy. Accessed December 9, 2020.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 4/21/2021

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