What do I need to know before starting treatment?

What happens during treatment
with extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP)?


You will be connected to the instrument throughout the procedure

It is a sterile procedure, and your blood will not come into contact with anybody else’s blood that has been treated with the instrument

The procedure usually takes between 1 to 3 hours to complete and varies from patient to patient

How can I prepare for ECP treatment?

Your doctor or nurse will tell you the best way for you to prepare, based on your individual health and medical condition.

Remember to tell your doctor or nurse about any other conditions (such as heart problems, or low blood volume/pressure), as well as any medications you may be taking before starting treatment.

There are several things you can do to prepare yourself which may help with your extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) treatment.

For 2 days before

Drink plenty of fluids such as water or juice to stay hydrated to help your blood flow well during treatment

Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Both can reduce the fluid in the body

The night before

Eat a low-fat, healthy meal such as fruit, yogurt, grains, and vegetables. This may make cell separation easier

Avoid high-fat foods such as high-fat meat, cream, fried food, cheese, eggs, butter and desserts

Treatment day

Eat a low-fat breakfast and lunch. Don’t skip any meals

Visit the bathroom right before treatment starts

You can read, email, watch TV, or nap to help pass the time

Bring ultraviolet A-protective, wrap-around sunglasses that protect from ultraviolet A light, to wear after the procedure

The 24 hours after

Because the drug used in ECP makes you more sensitive to sunlight for about 24 hours, you will need to protect your eyes and skin from the sun during this time

Avoid sunlight as much as possible, even indirect sunlight coming through a window

When exposed to direct or indirect sunlight, wear long-sleeved garments and long pants, apply sunscreen SPF 15 or higher to exposed skin, and wear ultraviolet A-protective, wrap-around sunglasses

What are the side effects of ECP treatment?

During treatment, you may feel

A slight pulsing from the treatment

Pain at the injection site

A slight chill or cold feeling where your blood is returned to your body

Tired, which may be caused by low levels of red blood cells

Dizzy or weak, which may be signs of low blood pressure – your doctor or nurse will monitor you during treatment for low blood pressure

Other possible side effects such as fever or skin redness at the injection site usually go away within a day. Venous access carries a small risk of infection and pain. For further information on ECP side effects, please read the Important Safety Information here or talk to your doctor.

Download our patient brochure

The information provided in this website should not be used as a substitute for medical advice from a healthcare professional.