Having a high number of white blood cells is not specifically a disease itself, but it can be an indicator of other problems, such as leukemia or chronic inflammation. In the event of the white blood cell count growing far too high, a doctor may recommend leukapheresis treatment. This form of treatment involves pumping blood from you, filtering some of the white blood cells out, and then reintroducing the filtered plasma back into your body. Just like most medical treatments for blood-related problems, leukapheresis does have a few pros and cons to consider.
Pro: The treatment does not take that long to do.
For the most part, leukapheresis treatment is not a long process at all. You will likely only have to stay seated or in a hospital bed for a few hours while the plasma is pumped out, filtered, and reintroduced. Most people can easily get through this treatment while watching television or reading a book to pass the time.
Con: You may have to be fitted with a central line for ongoing treatments.
If you will have to have multiple leukapheresis treatments, your doctor may suggest that you get fitted with a central line, which is an access line in your neck or chest area. Having a central line gives practitioners a way to connect the treatment tubes to your body without having to insert an IV every single time. For most patients, the central line is not that big of a deal; it just means they have to be slightly more cautious about cleanliness and watching for infections.
Pro: Leukapheresis is not a painful procedure.
As long as you do not have problems with needles, leukapheresis is not a painful treatment. You will be attached to two different lines, one in each arm, with an IV needle. Therefore, the only pain you will likely feel during the treatment is whatever pain you experience during IV insertion.
Con: The treatment can cause a few unpleasant side effects.
No matter what type of treatment it is that you undergo, it is likely that you will have some side effects, and leukapheresis is no different. The side effects of the treatment are usually minimal, but they can include things like lowered calcium in the body, muscle spasms, and tingling or numbing sensations in your mouth or hands and feet. Your doctor may recommend a calcium supplement to help combat the symptoms.