Bone Marrow Biopsy and Aspiration

What is a bone marrow biopsy and aspiration?

A bone marrow biopsy and aspiration is a procedure for removing samples of tissue from the center of a bone for tests. Marrow is the soft, fatty tissue inside hard bone. The marrow is where blood cells are formed.

  • White blood cells help fight off infection.
  • Red blood cells carry oxygen and nutrition to your body.
  • Platelets help your blood clot.

Why is this test done?

The test results show whether the various types of blood cells are present in normal amounts and are developing normally. Too many or too few of certain types of cells may indicate specific diseases. A bone marrow biopsy helps diagnose blood disorders. These include:

  • Low levels of red blood cells (anemia)
  • Low levels of white blood cells or platelets
  • Blood cell cancers, such as leukemia and some other types of cancer
  • Infections
  • Side effects of cancer therapy
  • Blood clotting problems

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Plan for your care and find someone to give you a ride home after the procedure.
  • Tell your provider if you have had kidney problems or an allergy to chemicals, such as contrast dye. Contrast dye is used for some scans.
  • Some medicines (like aspirin) may increase your risk of bleeding during or after the procedure. Ask your healthcare provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • You may or may not need to take your regular medicines the day of the procedure, depending on what they are and when you need to take them. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements that you take.
  • Follow any other instructions your healthcare provider gives you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your healthcare provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens during the procedure?

You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area. You may also be given medicine to help you relax during the test.

Your provider will make a small cut in the skin over your hipbone or breastbone. A needle will then be passed through the cut and into the bone. You may feel pressure when the needle is inserted. Your provider may take 2 samples. You may have a few seconds of an uncomfortable, pulling feeling.

The entire procedure usually takes only 10 to 15 minutes.

What happens after the procedure?

Unless your provider tells you otherwise, there are no special steps to take after the procedure. You may have some soreness and bruising at the biopsy site for a few days.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure and any risks. Some possible risks include:

  • Anesthesia has some risks. Discuss these risks with your healthcare provider.
  • You may have bleeding from the biopsy site.
  • The needle may puncture a nearby blood vessel, an organ, or a gland. This could cause it to leak or bleed.
  • If the needle crosses a collection of bacteria, it could spread an infection to other areas or to the bloodstream.

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-04-28
Last reviewed: 2014-04-28
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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