Venesection (phlebotomy) is the removal of approximately 400 - 500ml of blood. It is the process that occurs when donating blood. In Gastroenterology venesection is undertaken to treat Haemochromatosis, a genetic disease in which there is an overload of iron after excessive absorption through the intestine.
In haemochromatosis excess iron storage may cause damage to the liver, heart, joints and pancreas leading to diseases such as cirrhosis, cardiac failure, arthropathy, diabetes and premature death if treatment is not provided.
Venesection is the treatment for haemochromatosis when iron levels are elevated.
For more information go to: www.gesa.org.au
How often is it done?
Venesection is performed at regular intervals (2 – 4 weeks) until iron levels in the blood return to normal levels. Once iron levels are stabilised venesection is undertaken less frequently – determined by blood monitoring.
The procedure is undertaken at St. John of God (Berwick) or the Valley Private Hospital (Mulgrave). No fasting is required patients may drive themselves home following the procedure. The procedure may take from 15 minutes up to one hour and involves insertion of an intravenous cannula into the arm, which is removed upon completion of the procedure.
Patients may feel lightheaded after blood removal. It is a good idea to have 1-2 drinks just before presenting for the procedure. It may be sensible to have someone take you home after your first venesection.