Therapeutic venesection has been shown to be beneficial in patients with conditions such as haemochromatosis and polycythaemia. By removing 250-500ml of blood at regular intervals (venesection) the excess iron or increased red cell mass is eliminated. Venesection is generally safe and has few side effects. Possible complications include local venepuncture site haematoma, phlebitis, nerve injury, venous scarring, hypovolaemia and vasovagal syncope. The patient should also be warned of feeling lethargic for a few days after the procedure.


  • This procedure is similar to donating blood and can take from 30 minutes, up to 1 hour.
  • An intravenous cannula is inserted into the arm for the duration of the procedure and then removed at the end.
  • Vital signs (blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels) are monitored throughout the procedure.
  • You may drive yourself to/from the appointment.


  • Please ensure you have had adequate food prior to the procedure.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • If you would like to know more, please visit Haemochromatosis Australia.

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