White blood cell reduction apheresis, a form of therapeutic leukapheresis, is a nonsurgical therapy that reduces the quantity of white blood cells in a patient's circulating blood supply.
White blood cell reduction apheresis involves removing blood through a needle or catheter and circulating it through a machine where the blood is separated into red cells, white cells, platelets and plasma. The separated white blood cells flow into a leukapheresis bag and are discarded. The rest of the blood circulates back to the patient through a return needle.
What does white blood cell reduction apheresis treat?
White blood cells, also called leukocytes, are part of the the body's immune system and responsible for fighting infection. Leukemia is characterized by an abnormal increase of white blood cells making the blood thick. At UC San Diego Health, white blood cell reduction apheresis is primarily used as a treatment for patients with leukemia whose blood white cell counts are excessively high.
Potential side effects
White blood cell reduction apheresis is a safe procedure with a few possible side effects. You may have discomfort at the needle site and occasional light-headedness during treatment. A nurse will check on you regularly during treatment and a physician will be onsite.