Immunoglobulin Therapy

(Intravenous Immunoglobulin [IVIg; IgG])

Pronounced: Im-mu-no-glob-u-lin

Definition

Immunoglobulins are special proteins in the blood. They fight infections. Some white blood cells make them. They are also known as antibodies. They are part of the immune system. With immunoglobulin therapy (IVIg), these proteins are donated from a healthy person. They are then given to you through an IV.

Immune System

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Reasons for Procedure    TOP

IVIg 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 can't fight them
  • Inflammatory or other diseases that make the immune system weak

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

Possible Complications    TOP

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems such as:

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

What to Expect    TOP

Prior to Procedure

You don't need to do anything special. The solution is tested for viruses, diseases, or infections.

Description of the Procedure

Concentrated immunoglobulin antibodies will be collected from a healthy person. They are added to a germ-free solution.

An IV needle will be placed into a vein in your arm. The solution is in a bag. It hangs above and next to you. It then drains through a tube and into the vein.

How Long Will It Take?    TOP

About 5-6 hours

Will It Hurt?    TOP

There may be a slight sting when the IV is placed.

Post-procedure Care    TOP

The site where the IV was put in may become irritated. You should check with your doctor if this happens.

You may start to feel better in 1 to 2 days. For some people, it can take up to 3 to 4 weeks.

IVIg is done in cycles. How many times you need it depends on what types of problems you have.

Call Your Doctor    TOP

Call your doctor if any of these occur:

  • Wheezing
  • Breathing problems
  • Not understanding what is going on around you
  • Speaking problems
  • Fast heartbeat—tachycardia
  • Blue tint to the skin, lips, or fingernails
  • Lightheadedness or feeling faint
  • Hives, rash, or itching
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or belly cramps
  • Cough or nasal congestion
  • Reddened skin

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services 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:

IgG deficiency. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115169/IgG-deficiency. Updated November 18, 2015. Accessed August 21, 2018.
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 August 21, 2018.
Immunoglobulin therapy & other medical therapies for antibody deficiencies. Immune Deficiency Foundation website. Available at: https://primaryimmune.org/treatment-information/immunoglobulin-therapy. Accessed August 21, 2018.
Last reviewed June 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD
Last Updated: 8/21/2018

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