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Therapeutic Phlebotomy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What do I need to know about therapeutic phlebotomy?

Therapeutic phlebotomy is a procedure to remove blood from your body. This procedure is done to treat certain blood disorders, such as hemochromatosis or polycythemia vera. It helps decrease high levels of iron or red blood cells.

How do I prepare for therapeutic phlebotomy?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for this procedure. Your provider will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure. You may be asked to drink about 8 eight-ounce cups of liquid each day before this procedure.

What will happen during therapeutic phlebotomy?

Your healthcare provider will insert a needle into a vein in your arm. Your provider may remove up to 1 pint of blood. Saline (salt water) fluid may be given to help prevent dizziness or lightheadedness. Your provider will then put pressure on the injection site and place a bandage over it.

What should I expect after therapeutic phlebotomy?

You may have lightheadedness, dizziness, sweating, paleness, or fatigue after a phlebotomy. This can lead to fainting. You will need to stay seated for several minutes and then stand up slowly. You may need to wait in another room for a period of time. You may also be given a drink or light snack. You may have nausea or vomiting after this procedure. You may also have bruising or discomfort at the needle injection site.

What are the risks of therapeutic phlebotomy?

You may develop anemia. Anemia is a low number of red blood cells or a low amount of hemoglobin in your red blood cells. They moglobin is a protein that helps carry oxygen throughout your body. Red blood cells use iron to create hemoglobin. Anemia may lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, pale skin, a fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.