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Intravenous Immunoglobulin - Definition, Indications, and Preparation

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Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is a mixture of antibodies used to treat a wide range of medical conditions. Read on to know more about it.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Basuki Nath Bhagat

Published At November 23, 2022
Reviewed AtNovember 23, 2022

What Is Intravenous (IV)?

An intravenous (IV) injection is a medication or other substance injected into a vein and directly into the bloodstream. It is one of the quickest methods of getting a drug into the body. Several factors will influence the type and method of intravenous injection required. These include the medication and dose they require, the urgency with which they require it, and the length of time the medication must remain in their system. Pain, irritation, and bruising are all risks of intravenous injections. Infections and blood clots are more serious risks of it.

What Is Immunoglobulin (IG)?

Immunoglobulins are glycoproteins that play an important role in the immune system's maintenance. Immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, are highly specific proteins secreted in large quantities by plasma cells in response to pathogenic antigens. Immunoglobulins defend the body's immune system against bacteria, chemicals, viruses, parasites, allergens, synthetic substances, cancerous cells, and fungi.

What Is Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIG)?

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) infusions therapy is administering medication via a needle or catheter. It is administered when a patient's condition cannot be treated with oral medication. Infusion therapy typically involves administering a drug intravenously (IV) through a catheter placed in the vein. Still, it can also refer to situations in which the drug is administered subcutaneously (under the skin).

IVIG is a treatment that combines immunoglobulins donated by different people to treat a variety of conditions. Intravenous means it is administered through a drip. Plasma is used to create IVIG and other immunoglobulins.

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is used to treat autoimmune diseases and inflammatory conditions involving the immune system. It is also used to boost immunoglobulin levels if they are low or have been depleted by other medications.

Who Needs an Intravenous Immunoglobulin?

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG therapy's ultimate goal is to help restore a severely weakened immune system. The immune system cannot produce enough infection-fighting antibodies when the body has an immunoglobulin deficiency. This can increase the susceptibility to infections. It is advised to receive an IVIG infusion to help reduce inflammation. This therapy can help prevent the immune system from attacking healthy cells in autoimmune diseases. IVIG may be prescribed for infectious, autoimmune, and other inflammatory diseases such as:

  • Lupus systemic (a condition where the immune system attacks its own tissues and results in inflammation).

  • Sjögren's syndrome (an immune system disorder characterized by its two most prevalent symptoms, dry mouth, and eyes).

  • Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP) (a blood condition that is characterized by a drop in platelets level in the blood).

  • Kawasaki disease (a condition that results in inflammation of the blood vessel walls in some body parts).

  • Polymyositis (a rare inflammatory condition that weakens the muscles on both sides of the body).

  • Dermatomyositis (an inflammatory condition characterized by skin rashes and muscle weakness).

  • Primary immunodeficiency disease (PIDD) (a rare genetic condition that weakens the immune system).

  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis vasculitis (the most prevalent form of arthritis in youngsters under 16).

How Are Immunoglobulins Prepared?

  • Immunoglobulin therapy products contain sterile solutions containing concentrated antibodies and proteins extracted from healthy blood donors. The immunoglobulins required are extracted from thousands of pooled plasma donations. The solutions are highly purified, treated to reduce pathogen transmission, and sterilely packaged for use.

  • Immunoglobulin is found in the plasma of the blood. It contains antibodies that help it fight germs and diseases. This component can be separated when people donate blood. The medication will then be administered via an intravenous (IV) line through the arm. IVIG can help strengthen the immune system, allowing the body to fight infections and stay healthy.

  • Liquid immunoglobulin is extracted from the blood plasma of healthy donors who have been screened. The plasma is screened for dangerous infections such as hepatitis and AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Before being used for IVIG therapy, the plasma is purified.

How to Prepare for an Intravenous Immunoglobulin?

An infusion can take up to three or four hours to complete. In some cases, the injection may take a little longer, depending on the level of therapy required. However, the low infusion rate aids in problem prevention. There is no need for patients to fast prior to an infusion, so eat a regular breakfast and lunch. Then, take their regular medications and get ready to have a tiny IV drip inserted into their arm or hand.

What Happens During an Intravenous Immunoglobulin?

Before administering any IV (Intravenous) medicine, the registered practitioner will take a thorough personal and medical history. And the following steps are followed.

  • They will then administer a test dose to see if the patients have any adverse reactions. They may also ask the patients to relax and distract them from deviating their minds.

  • Intravenous infusion is the administration of IVIG via a drip into a vein. It is sometimes given as an injection into a muscle.

  • The infusion will take several hours because the drug must be administered slowly.

  • During the drip, the blood pressure, pulse, and temperature will be checked regularly to monitor the body's reaction.

  • If the patients do not have any problems during the first hour of the infusion, the healthcare practitioner will increase the rate. After that, patients will have to spend an hour at the hospital being monitored.

  • The majority of infusion medications are not painful to administer. Some people may find the placement of the IV catheter painful.

  • Healthcare practitioners frequently use numbing creams and sprays, distraction techniques, and devices that provide physical pain blocking using cold and vibration to reduce the pain of inserting an IV catheter.

What Are the Side Effects of Intravenous Immunoglobulin?

Many people do not experience side effects from IVIG, but there are some that may occur, particularly if patients are not receiving IVIG on a regular basis and if they are receiving higher doses of IVIG. Symptoms include.

  • Fever.

  • Headache.

  • Stomach pain.

  • Feeling sick or vomiting.

  • Heart failure.

  • Elevated blood pressure.

  • A higher risk of blood clots.

  • High blood sugar levels.

  • Extreme allergic reactions.

  • Anemia caused by hemolysis.

  • Problems with the liver or kidneys.

  • Joint pain.

  • Lower back ache.

  • Tiredness.

  • Aseptic meningitis, a rare but serious side effect of IVIG therapy. It is a type of non-infection-related brain inflammation.


Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) infusions help the immune system produce the antibodies required to fight infections. IVIG infusions can also aid in the reduction of inflammation and the suppression of immune system attacks on healthy cells. The antibodies typically last several weeks to months and aid the body in fighting off a wide range of infections.

Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is made from blood donated by thousands of people to create a highly concentrated and diverse collection of antibodies against a wide range of infectious organisms that the body may encounter.

Dr. Basuki Nath Bhagat
Dr. Basuki Nath Bhagat

Family Physician


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