Heard of the term therapeutic phlebotomy but aren’t sure what it is and how it’s done? Or you’ve probably never heard of this before. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. To help you understand this, here’s everything you need to know about therapeutic phlebotomy.
WHAT IS THERAPEUTIC PHLEBOTOMY?
It is important to know that therapeutic phlebotomy is not a form of blood donation. Instead, it’s a medical procedure that involves removing blood from your body. In other words, it’s an internal bloodletting – a common practice performed by trained professionals in clinics and hospitals around the world.
Therapeutic phlebotomy, also known as venesection, is a procedure where anesthesia is not needed. While patients may experience some discomfort during the procedure, it will typically be minimal or non-existent if the puncture area with a needle is numbed beforehand. In addition, most patients are awake during this procedure to communicate with their healthcare provider about any issues as they arise.
It is the drawing of blood to treat a medical condition, e.g., having excessive iron in your blood.
WHEN DO YOU NEED THERAPEUTIC PHLEBOTOMY?
The blood removal aims to treat or reduce symptoms of certain conditions, such as hemochromatosis, porphyria cutanea tarda, polycythemia vera, and polycythemia secondary to arteriovenous fistulae, cyanotic congenital heart disease or cor pulmonale, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease with hyperferritinemia, and sickle cell disease.
HOW IS THE PROCEDURE PERFORMED?
- You will be asked to lie down on a bed or sit on a chair for your procedure.
- A nurse will draw the amount of blood needed, depending on your illness, using a needle connected to a blood collection bag.
- This can be done quickly, but collecting enough blood for testing or treatment takes some time.
- The nurse will withdraw the needle and apply a pressure bandage to the needle site once the proper amount of blood has been extracted.
- After your procedure, leave the pressure bandage on the area where the needle was inserted for 3 to 6 hours.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS AND BENEFITS OF THERAPEUTIC PHLEBOTOMY?
Therapeutic phlebotomy is a safe and effective procedure for lowering iron levels. It is primarily used to decrease blood volume, red cell mass, and iron storage.
Fatigue, increased liver enzymes, hepatomegaly, stomach discomfort, arthralgias, and hyperpigmentation are just a few of the symptoms and problems that therapeutic phlebotomy may help to alleviate or reduce complications. The risks are rare but can include excessive bleeding and infection.
IT IS NOT A CURE
Do not expect therapeutic phlebotomy to cure your blood disorder as with any other treatment. Instead, it’s just one aspect of managing your condition, helping ease symptoms, and preventing more serious complications from developing.
Your doctor will discuss whether this procedure is right for you.
Before undergoing therapeutic phlebotomy, it is important to talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits and any alternatives or other forms of treatment that might be available. It is also important to make sure you know what kind of procedure is being performed so that you can ask questions if necessary and understand why certain procedures are done before treatment begins.
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