Therapeutic Plasma Exchange for Refractory Hemolysis After Brown Recluse Spider (Loxosceles reclusa) Envenomation

Manjusha Abraham, Lowell Tilzer, K. Sarah Hoehn, Stephen L. Thornton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Introduction: The brown recluse spider (BRS) (Loxosceles reclusa) envenomation can lead to multiple complications, including hemolysis. We present a case of refractory hemolysis after a BRS bite treated with therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE). Case Report: A 17-year-old female presented with fever, fatigue, and dyspnea. She was diagnosed with sepsis and received intravenous (IV) fluids, inotropic support, and antibiotics. On hospital day 1 she was noted to have skin lesion consistent with a BRS bite and developed hemolysis. Systemic loxoscelism with hemolysis was then suspected and methylprednisolone IV was initiated. She was discharged with a stable HGB on hospital day 3 on oral prednisolone. She was re-admitted 24 h later, with signs of worsening hemolysis. Methylprednisolone was restarted and she was transfused 4 units of packed red blood cells. TPE was initiated due to the refractory hemolysis. Shortly after the TPE session, her clinical and laboratory status improved. She required no further transfusions and was discharged on a steroid taper. Discussion: TPE is an extra-corporeal method to remove substances from the blood by separating plasma from cellular blood components and replacing it with physiologic fluids. TPE has been used for snake envenomation but there are no reports detailing its use for BRS envenomations. Improvement was associated with TPE initiation and may have been due to removal of complement components activated by the spider venom. This report suggests that TPE could be a possible treatment modality for systemic loxoscelism with refractory hemolysis due to BRS envenomation. Further investigation is warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-367
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Medical Toxicology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 27 2015


  • Brown recluse
  • Hemolysis
  • Loxoceles reclusa
  • Spider bite
  • Total plasma exchange


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