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bloodletting, also called bleeding, practice of drawing blood from the body in the treatment of disease. General bloodletting consists of the abstraction of blood by incision into an artery (arteriotomy) or vein (venesection, or phlebotomy). Local bloodletting is the abstraction of blood from smaller vessels by watercupping or by leeching. From antiquity through the 18th cent. bloodletting was widely practiced in western medicine. A broad assortment of ailments were believed to result from the impurity or superabundance of blood in the system; periodic bloodletting was felt to assure the patient of good health. In modern times the medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis) is still used in some areas of the world for the removal of blood from bruises and black eyes. Venesection is employed to treat erythremia, an abnormal condition characterized by the overproduction of red blood cells, and to relieve the congestion of blood resulting from acute heart failure.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the drawing of blood from the blood vessels (most often from a vein) for therapeutic purposes.

In modern medicine the indications for bloodletting are strictly limited. It is effective when there is acute cardiac insufficiency and it is necessary to decrease the flow of blood to the heart, thus lightening its work; when there is edema of the lungs, in order to decrease the quantity of blood in the pulmonary vessels; in serious hypertensive crises to rapidly lower the blood pressure; in some blood diseases; and in some types of poisoning, such as carbonmonoxide or illuminating gas (which contains carbon monoxide) poisoning. In bloodletting 200–400 milliliters of blood are usually drawn by puncturing or incising the vein and sometimes by using medicinal leeches.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Such scenes are used by Simms, Cooper, and Bird to illustrate the incompatibility of Indians and "civilized" whites; yet while Craven, Bumppo, and Slaughter are not blood-drinkers, they are incomparable bloodletters, and the distinction between the two is a matter of custom, not an indication of their moral superiority.
and Nippon theatrical runs last year, pic went under the humbler title "The Era of the Vampires.") Stateside strategy as a midnight movie programmer quickly followed by vid release is a smart move, but in the great tradition of nocturnal bloodletters, this trails far behind the pack.
Thus begins Siegfried Sassoon's seething 1917 poem "The General," on the bungling bloodletters commanding the British army during World War I.