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 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.

Current as of: September 9, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology