What is IVIG? (Intravenous Immunoglobulin)
The term 'immunoglobulin' refers to the small part of blood plasma that contains antibodies. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is a blood product that can be administered intravenously or subcutaneously. IVIG contains the pooled IgG antibodies extracted from the plasma of at least 1,000 and more commonly, up to 10,000 donors per dose. IVIG is a plasma protein replacement therapy (IgG) for immune deficient patients who have decreased or suppressed antibody production capabilities.
IVIG is mainly used as treatment in three major categories; immune deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, and acute infections. It is important to know that the immunoglobulin given via IVIG therapy only partly replaces what the body should be making on its own. It does not help the patient’s immune system make more. In immune deficient patients IVIG is given to maintain adequate antibody levels to fight and prevent infections. In the case of patients with autoimmune disease, IVIG is administered at a high dose in an attempt to decrease the severity of the autoimmune disease.
Most antibodies, whether produced by the patient’s own immune system or given in the form of immunoglobulin, are used up by the body. About half of the infused antibodies are metabolized over a 3-4 week period, so repeat doses are necessary at regular intervals. Treatment is given intravenously every 3-4 weeks, or as adjusted to meet the individual patient's need, and as much as every 2-3 days subcutaneously; the dose generally depends on the patient’s weight and condition. Since IVIG only replaces the missing antibodies, but does not correct the defect in antibody production in the patient’s immune system, immunoglobulin replacement therapy is usually necessary for the remainder of the patient’s life.
Nurses: For an outstanding source of information about IVIG therapy, check out the Immune Deficiency Foundation’s website by clicking the button below. They offer information for patients and medical personnel, including a 5 CE unit online course free for RNs. The direct link is: http://primaryimmune.org/healthcare-professionals/continuing-education-course-for-nurses