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Intravenous immunoglobulin (commonly referred to as IVIg) is used to treat many immune deficiency disorders and inflammatory conditions.
An IVIg infusion is a common and safe procedure. The IVIg your child will receive is supplied by the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood. IVIg is prepared from blood donated by thousands of healthy people to make a concentrated collection of antibodies (immunoglobulins). All IVIg products are tested and screened to protect patients from diseases. They also undergo at least two processes that destroy viruses. The risk of infection is very low.
The IVIg is slowly administered directly into your child’s vein through a drip (intravenous or IV therapy).
There are two main reasons children are prescribed IVIg treatment:
If your child needs IVIg, your doctor will discuss with you:
You will be asked to sign a consent form to allow your child to have an IVIg infusion. You can ask questions and discuss any concerns you may have with the doctor before you agree to your child being given IVIg.
You will also be asked for your consent (oral or written) to the collection, retention and use of your child's personal information and clinical data. The clinical staff at the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood who authorise IVIg require this information to ensure:
Unless your child already has one, an IV will be inserted into a vein, which may cause some brief pain and discomfort. If your child is distressed or uncomfortable, you can try distracting them using some of the techniques in our fact sheet Reducing your child's discomfort during procedures.
Before the IVIg infusion begins, two nurses will check that the details on your child's wristband (full name and date of birth) exactly match those on each IVIg bottle. You may be asked to participate in this check. This will happen each time, even if your child needs many IVIg infusions.
The IVIg infusion will take a number of hours to administer. A pump will be used to ensure it is delivered over the correct time frame.
Most children feel comfortable and no different to usual during their IVIg infusion; however, they may become bored or restless. If your child is going into hospital to have an infusion as a day procedure, it is a good idea to bring in a smartphone, tablet, MP3 player or books to keep your child occupied.
There are a number of possible side effects associated with IVIg infusions, especially if the child does not receive IVIg regularly or requires larger doses. These side effects are usually minor and not dangerous. They may include tiredness, mild headache, nausea, stomach and back pain. Let nursing staff know if your child starts to feel unwell in any way or if you are concerned.
Very rarely, more serious side effects can occur, such as:
Your child will be carefully monitored during their infusion. Nurses will frequently check their temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure.
Let nursing staff know if your child starts to feel unwell in any way or you are concerned during the IVIg infusion.
Sometimes, these side effects can occur 24 hours after the infusion has been completed. Any of the side effects listed above – or any other symptoms – should be reported to a doctor or nurse immediately.
What are the alternatives to having an IVIg infusion?
Your child's doctor will explain if there are any alternatives to IVIg infusion that may be suitable for your child. These alternatives will depend on your child's condition and the severity of symptoms.
Will the IVIg infusion hurt?
Inserting an IV involves a needle and is associated with a brief period of pain and discomfort. Once the transfusion is underway, your child will not feel anything happening, and they should feel no different to normal.
Developed by The Royal Children's Hospital Blood Management committee. We acknowledge the input of RCH consumers and carers.
Reviewed January 2023.
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