Why choose Mayo Clinic

By Mayo Clinic Staff


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  • Expertise and experience. Mayo Clinic doctors have a worldwide reputation for diagnosis and treatment of rare blood disorders, including cryoglobulinemia. Mayo specialists have been treating cryoglobulinemia for decades, attracting one of the largest patient populations with this disease.
  • Team approach. A multispecialty team of experts works together to develop a treatment plan based on your needs. Your treatment team may include specialists from hematology, rheumatology, gastroenterology, neurology, nephrology and other areas as needed.


Your doctor makes a diagnosis of cryoglobulinemia after doing a thorough history and physical exam and getting results from your blood and urine tests. At times, your doctor may take small samples of tissue (biopsy).

Cryoglobulinemia has many possible signs and symptoms. Most common are weakness, fatigue, joint ache (arthralgia), and red or purple spots (purpura) that occur on your legs or feet. Other signs and symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Swelling of ankles and legs
  • Numbness, tingling or weakness in the hands or feet
  • Skin ulcers and gangrene
  • Enlarged liver or spleen
  • Abdominal pain

Cryoglobulinemia may also be associated with other diseases, such as Raynaud's disease.


Because cryoglobulinemia is rare, there are few standard treatments for symptomatic cryoglobulinemia. The goal of treatment is to limit organ damage. Treatment depends on the type, cause and severity of your symptoms.

  • If you don't have symptoms, your doctor may recommend careful monitoring rather than treatment.
  • If you have mild to moderate symptoms, your doctor may recommend steroids, anti-inflammatory medicines, medicines that suppress your immune system, and sometimes low-dose chemotherapy to control the symptoms.
  • If you have severe symptoms, your doctor may also recommend plasmapheresis. This treatment reduces cryoglobulins by exchanging the blood plasma (which contains much of the cryoglobulins) for donor plasma or a replacement fluid.
  • If you have moderate or severe symptoms, you may also be treated with man-made antibodies (monoclonal antibodies), often in combination with chemotherapy.

Mayo Clinic: Answers you can trust

At Mayo Clinic, we assemble a team of specialists who take the time to listen and thoroughly understand your health issues and concerns. We tailor the care you receive to your personal health care needs. You can trust our specialists to collaborate and offer you the best possible outcomes, safety and service.

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical institution that reinvests all earnings into improving medical practice, research and education. We're constantly involved in innovation and medical research, finding solutions to improve your care and quality of life. Your doctor or someone on your medical team is likely involved in research related to your condition.

Our patients tell us that the quality of their interactions, our attention to detail and the efficiency of their visits mean health care — and trusted answers — like they've never experienced.

Why Choose Mayo Clinic

What Sets Mayo Clinic Apart

Nov. 19, 2012

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