DOI: 10.1111/imj.16313 ISSN: 1444-0903

A comparison between erythrocytapheresis and venesection for the treatment of JAK2‐mutated polycythaemia

Trung Q. Ngo, Matthew W. Scott, Shreerang Sirdesai, Jennifer L. Hempton, Georgina S. Hodges, Philip J. Campbell
  • Internal Medicine



JAK2‐mutated polycythaemia vera (PV) is associated with reduced survival because of thrombotic events and haematological disease transformation. Therapeutic venesection has traditionally been used to lower haematocrit, but the technique of erythrocytapheresis has emerged over the last decade.


To compare erythrocytapheresis with venesection as treatment for PV by assessing medical efficacy and financial viability.


One hundred sixteen patients with PV who received red cell depletion therapy at Barwon Health between 2014 and 2021 were identified. The haematocrit drop after each session, interval between treatment times and number of sessions required to achieve a haematocrit <0.45 were compared with an independent t test. Thrombosis rates were compared with Pearson's chi‐squared test. Cost‐funding analysis was done by assessing the Weighted Inlier Equivalent Separation and National Weighted Activity Unit funding models.


Patients treated with erythrocytapheresis achieved a greater haematocrit drop each treatment session (0.075 vs 0.03, P < 0.01), required fewer sessions to achieve a haematocrit <0.45 (1 vs 4, P < 0.01) and experienced fewer thrombotic complications (8.7% vs 32.1%, P = 0.02) than those treated with venesection. Cost‐funding analysis demonstrated that erythrocytapheresis was more financially viable with a surplus of AU$297 per session compared to a deficit of AU$176 with venesection. Even if funding for venesection is increased, the cost of erythrocytapheresis may be mitigated by a lower number of procedures required per year (3.8 vs 5.3, P < 0.01).


Erythrocytapheresis is more efficacious than venesection for the treatment of PV and is accompanied by rapid reductions in haematocrit and reduced thrombotic complications.

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