Process in which white blood cells are separated from a sample of blood.

A specific type of apheresis, the more general term for separating out one particular constituent of blood and returning the remainder to the circulation.

Performed to decrease a very high white blood cell count, or to obtain autologous blood cells.

In the presence of very high white blood cell counts, such as with acute leukemia, the blood count may be high enough to cause hemostasis and sludging in the capillaries and can affect retinal vasculature with vision changes, pulmonary vasculature leading to shortness of breath from decreased efficiency in oxygen exchange, and neurological deterioration from cerebrovascular compromise.

With hyperleukocytosis, a condition where WBC counts are more than 100,000/cu mm3 therapeutic leukapheresis is instituted.

About 5-13% of adults diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia present with such high counts.

Risks of leukostasis appear to be greater in acute promyelomonocytic leukemia.

The procedure may also be utilized to obtain the patient’s own blood cells for later transplant and to protect them from damage before high-dose chemotherapy.

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