Intended for healthcare professionals

Research Article

Aluminium bone disease in patients receiving plasma exchange with contaminated albumin.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987; 295 doi: (Published 19 September 1987) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1987;295:693
  1. D Maharaj,
  2. G S Fell,
  3. B F Boyce,
  4. J P Ng,
  5. G D Smith,
  6. J M Boulton-Jones,
  7. R L Cumming,
  8. J F Davidson
  1. Department of Haematology, Memorial Hospital, Darlington.


    Aluminium balance studies were carried out on eight patients with various immunological disorders who were receiving plasma exchange with albumin solutions known to be contaminated with aluminium. Four patients with impaired renal function (creatinine clearance less than 50 ml/min) retained between 60% and 74% of the aluminium infused during a single plasma exchange. Transiliac bone biopsy specimens from three patients in this group had a high content of aluminium and showed histological evidence of current or previous bone disease related to aluminium. Two of these patients suffered intermittent bone pain. The main route of excretion of injected aluminium was in urine, only a small proportion of the total input being removed in the "plasma bag" during plasma exchange. The extent of aluminium retention and bone deposition was not reflected by the plasma aluminium concentration before or after plasma exchange. Treatment of five patients with intravenous desferrioxamine increased the plasma aluminium concentration and urinary output of aluminium in those with evidence of aluminium retention. These studies show that patients with poor renal function receiving treatment with albumin contaminated with aluminium retain the metal and deposit it in bone, where it may eventually cause aluminium bone disease. Plasma exchange should be used with caution in patients with renal impairment.