Hyperleukocytosis is a complication of various leukemias and can result in life-threatening leukostasis. Critical white blood cell (WBC) counts are conventionally defined as higher than 100 × 109/l in acute myeloid leukemia and > 300 × 109/l in acute lymphatic leukemia and other leukemic disorders (e. g. chronic myeloid leukemia). Leukocytapheresis is a therapeutic tool to reduce leukocyte counts in patients with symptomatic or threatening leukostasis until induction chemotherapy works. In patients with temporary contraindications against cytotoxic drugs, e.g. during pregnancy, leukocytapheresis can be used as a bridging therapy until conventional chemotherapy can be started. Therapeutic leukocytapheresis should be performed in specialized centers by experienced, well-trained staff. Thorough monitoring of the patients is extremely relevant. During a single procedure, WBC count can be reduced by 10–70%. Treatment should be repeated daily and can be discontinued when the symptoms of leukostasis have been resolved and/or leukocyte counts have fallen below the critical thresholds. There are no prospective studies evaluating the clinical efficacy of therapeutic leukocytapheresis in patients with hyperleukocytosis. It can be concluded from retrospective studies that leukocytapheresis might have some beneficial effect in early morbidity and mortality of patients with newly diagnosed AML but has no influence on overall long-term survival. Induction chemotherapy is the most important treatment in these patients and must never be postponed.

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