T Cell Collection by Apheresis

Also known as: T cell harvest by apheresis.

What is T cell collection by apheresis?

The body’s T cells are a type of white blood cell that can be used for treatments for a number of different diseases including cancer. The process of collecting these T cells is known as T cell collection by apheresis.

What happens during the procedure?

In many instances, T cell collection simply requires a blood draw from the arm with a large needle while a machine takes specifically the T cell, and returns the other volume/cells through another catheter, this process is known as apheresis. This procedure is carried continuously, that the child is receiving immediately the volume back into the body. Some people with thin/fragile veins will require a central vein catheter or port arterial access in order to withdraw the blood.

Once the T cells are removed from the blood with a special machine, these ones are sent to the laboratory and they can be modified with novel techniques to treat specific condition such as leukemia or infections. In very few occasions if the child being collected has anemia or  has a small weight, the child will receive a blood transfusion prior the procedure, this is called blood priming. In addition, all children undergoing the procedure will receive medication to avoid potential clots in the apheresis circuit (citrate or heparin).

Is any special preparation needed?

In many cases, a central venous catheter is needed, and this one is placed under sedation with no pain in the operating room or minor procedure suit. Therefore, It may be necessary to avoid food, drink or certain medications before the procedure.

What are the risk factors?

T cell collection is known as a low risk procedure however, side effects can occurred. This symptoms include as with any potential transfusion; dizziness, fainting, vomiting, nausea, fever, hives, shortness of breath, infection; or related to medication use like bleeding, or bruising, or related to cardiovascular changes related to the volume such as irregular blood pressure, and heartbeat.


Reviewed by: Jorge Ricardo Galvez Silva, MD

This page was last updated on: December 18, 2020 05:22 PM

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