Phlebotomy

Phlebotomy is a procedure that removes blood from the body. Regular phlebotomy treatment is used to treat conditions such as hemochromatosis, in which a person has too much iron in his or her blood, or polycythemia, in which a person is producing too many red blood cells.

Removing blood regularly decreases iron levels in the body by reducing the number of iron-rich red blood cells. Phlebotomy is safe when done by a health professional in appropriate situations. The process is similar to donating blood. A health professional inserts a needle into an arm vein and removes about 2 cup (16 fl oz) of blood.

Removal of excess iron can significantly reduce the possibility of severe and even life-threatening damage to the liver and other organs.

Last Updated: April 20, 2009

Author: Robin Parks, MS

Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology

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