published Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Ask A Doctor: I have cancer, frequently develop hives while receiving platelets. Can this be prevented?

By Dr. Elizabeth Culler

Q: I have cancer and frequently develop hives while receiving platelets. Can this be prevented?

A: Your doctor can give you an antihistamine 30 minutes prior to transfusion. If you continue to experience hives, your doctor can specifically order a new platelet product made with a salt solution called "platelet additive solution." A traditional platelet is stored in 100 percent plasma, which contains the allergens causing the hives. The new product contains only 35 percent plasma with the remaining 65 percent of fluid replaced by platelet additive solution. One study showed a reduction in allergic reactions by 46 percent with this product. If hives continue to occur, the blood center can wash away the plasma. This process also removes some platelets but creates a less-effective product, so this procedure should be reserved for the most severe of allergic reactions.

— Dr. Elizabeth Culler, Blood Assurance; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

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