What is phlebotomy?

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Phlebotomy for too much iron: Overview

Phlebotomy is a procedure that removes blood from the body. Regular phlebotomy treats people who have too much iron in their blood, such as with hemochromatosis, or who are producing too many red blood cells, such as with polycythemia. Removing blood regularly decreases iron levels in the body by reducing the number of iron-rich red blood cells.

Health professionals perform phlebotomy in a medical clinic. The process is similar to donating blood. A health professional inserts a needle into a vein in your arm and removes about 500 mL (17 fl oz) of blood. The procedure takes about 30 minutes. You do not need to fast or make special preparations before phlebotomy. But try to eat a good meal and drink plenty of fluids before phlebotomy. This will prevent dizziness or fainting.

Health professionals will have you sit or lie down. During the procedure, they monitor your blood pressure and pulse.

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 the blood, and 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 500 mL (17 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.

How can you care for yourself after a blood draw for donation or treatment?

  • In the hours after you give blood, make sure to:
    • Drink plenty of fluids to help replace the lost fluid. If you have kidney, heart, or liver disease and have to limit fluids, talk with your doctor before you increase the amount of fluids you drink.
    • Limit your physical activity for several hours.
  • If you feel a little lightheaded, lie down for a while, and have some snacks. Call the blood bank or clinic if you feel sick within 24 hours after you give blood.
  • Eat foods rich in iron, such as meat, fish, beans, or leafy green vegetables, for several weeks to help your body make new red blood cells.

How well does phlebotomy for too much iron work?

Removing excess iron can greatly reduce the risk of severe and even life-threatening damage to the liver and other organs.

What are the risks of phlebotomy for too much iron?

There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.

What can you expect as you recover from phlebotomy for too much iron?

Some people feel tired or dizzy after phlebotomy. You might get relief from these symptoms by resting for the next 24 hours and drinking plenty of fluids. You may want to have a family member or friend take you home after the procedure.

Why is phlebotomy for too much iron done?

Excess iron is often stored in the organs, especially the liver. Eventually, the excess iron can cause serious organ and tissue damage. Phlebotomy lowers iron levels by removing iron-rich blood cells from the body.

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