Conditions Treated with IV Infusion Therapy

Intravenous (IV) infusion therapy uses a needle or flexible catheter, often placed in the arm or chest, to administer medications or fluids that cannot be received through the mouth. 

The procedure may be done at home, but it’s best done in an IV infusion center staffed by trained professionals. 

There are different types of IV infusion therapy, such as antibiotic or antiviral therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, transfusions, and hydration/electrolyte treatment. Here are nine conditions treated with these IV infusion therapy modalities.

  • Myasthenia Gravis

Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is a neuromuscular, autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself, resulting in limited muscle function. This can affect the individual’s ability to perform normal activities, resulting in symptoms such as drooping eyelids, breathing/swallowing problems, tiredness, and weakness, to name a few.

Patients with severe MG symptoms, such as those who are unable to move their eyes or lips, are often given an IV infusion of immunoglobulins, such as Efgartigimod alfa (Vyvgart), Ravulizumab (Ultomiris), and Eculizumab (Soliris). Donor antibodies are also given via IV infusion as part of maintenance therapy. 

  • Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease. In this condition, the body attacks the myelin sheath that covers the nerve fibers. This can permanently damage nerve fibers, leading to symptoms such as weakness/numbness, inability to walk, tingling, vision problems, and bowel/bladder dysfunction, to name a few. 

While there is no treatment for MS, IV infusion therapy may help slow disease progression and reduce flare-ups. This is made possible by medications called disease modifiers, which, as the name suggests, influence how the disease affects the body.

Examples of such medications include:

  • Natalizumab (Tysabri) – Prevents damaging cells from affecting the brain and spinal cord
  • Ocrelizumab (Ocrevus) – Targets the B lymphocytes that damage (and repair) the myelin sheath
  • Methylprednisolone (Solu-medrol) – A steroid that stops inflammatory cells from reaching the brain and spinal cord
  • Lupus

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation, eventually damaging the joints, skin, and major organs such as the lungs, heart, and kidneys. Symptoms include a butterfly rash on the face, headaches, joint/muscle pain, fatigue, and hair loss, to name a few.

Severe lupus is often treated with a variety of IV infusion medications, such as:

  • Prednisone (Solu-Medrol) – Reduces inflammatory symptoms that may lead to loss of organ function
  • Rituximab (Rituxan or Truxima) – Help prevent the onset of kidney complications (Lupus nephritis)
  • Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy

Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP) is an autoimmune disease. Similar to MS, the body attacks the myelin sheath, which helps protect and insulate the nerves. 

Symptoms include tingling, weakening, and/or loss of feeling in the arms and legs. Individuals with CIDP may also experience a loss of reflexes and/or balance, culminating in an inability to walk.

CIDP is often treated with an infusion of IV immunoglobulin, which contains antibodies from human plasma. These antibodies help combat the immune and inflammation changes that destroy the myelin sheath. 

  • Common Variable Immunodeficiency

Common Variable Immunodeficiency (CVID) is characterized by low immunoglobulin levels and a lack of antibody-producing plasma cells.

Since both are essential for protecting the body from bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, patients with CVID often suffer from repeated infections, autoimmune problems (such as vitiligo and rheumatoid arthritis), and cancers.

Because CVID patients lack immunoglobulins, the standard treatment is replacing them via IV infusion or injection. The recommended dosage is 400-600 mg/kg every 2-4 weeks. 

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis 

Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks healthy cells, specifically those of the joints in the wrists, hands, and knees. This results in inflammation, pain, deformities, unsteadiness, and other symptoms. 

RA may be treated with an IV infusion of biologics, which help suppress the inflammation that triggers the disease. Here are some of the common biologics given:

  • Rituximab (Rituxan) – Targets the B cells that cause complex formation in the joints
  • Infliximab (Remicade or Inflectra) – Inhibits the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) protein that causes bone loss
  • Tocilizumab (Actemra) – Blocks Interleukin-6, a protein that promotes joint destruction and disease progression
  • Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease is a chronic illness characterized by the inflammation of the digestive tract. Symptoms include diarrhea, ulcers, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, weight loss, and fatigue.

Crohn’s disease can stem from an abnormal reaction of the immune system, or it may result from genetic factors or infections. 

Physicians may recommend an IV infusion or an injection of biologics for disease treatment. These naturally occurring medications target proteins that promote inflammation, thus reducing the severity of symptoms and the risk of flares. 

Some of the common biologics given for Crohn’s infusion therapy include Infliximab, Vedolizumab (Entyvio), and Natalizumab (Tysabri).

  • Plaque Psoriasis

Plaque psoriasis is the most common type of psoriatic skin disease. It is characterized by plaques or raised patches that are itchy and dry. They can often be seen on the scalp, elbows, lower back, and knees. 

Plaque psoriasis is usually treated with ointments/creams, oral medications, and light therapy. Unfortunately, relief from these treatments is not always immediate. Those looking for promising results within a week or two can benefit from an IV infusion with any of the following medications:

  • Infliximab (Remicade or Inflectra) – Blocks TNF-alpha, a protein that causes inflammation and promotes plaque formation
  • Ustekinumab (Stelara) – Targets Interleukin 2 and 3, proteins that trigger the development of plaque psoriasis
  • Migraines

A migraine is a type of headache described as pulsing or throbbing. It is usually felt on one side of the head and can last for hours to days. While painkillers such as Aspirin, Acetaminophen, or Caffeine may help address migraines, excessive use of these medications can trigger more headaches. 

To prevent this vicious headache cycle, doctors may recommend an IV infusion with a biologic known as Eptinezumab (Vyepti). It can help prevent migraine onset by attaching itself to calcitonin gene-related peptides, proteins that bind to receptors and cause pain. 

Wrapping Up

IV infusion is an effective way to treat many complicated conditions, such as MG, MS, and lupus. Since the medications are injected directly into the bloodstream, they can provide immediate relief or treatment that oral or topical medications cannot. 

If you’re seeking professional care, visit an IV infusion center near you for expert administration and personalized treatment plans.

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