Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy
A bone marrow biopsy removes a small amount of bone and a small amount of fluid and cells from inside the bone (bone marrow). A bone marrow aspiration removes only the marrow. These tests are often done to find the reason for many blood disorders and may be used to find out if cancer or infection has spread to the bone marrow.
A bone marrow aspiration can also be done to collect bone marrow for medical procedures, such as stem cell transplant or chromosomal analysis. For a stem cell transplant, bone marrow aspiration will be done at several places on the body (generally from the back of the pelvic bone) to remove enough bone marrow cells for the transplant to work.
Why It Is Done
A bone marrow aspiration, biopsy, or both are done to:
How To Prepare
You will be asked to sign a consent form. Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about the need for the aspiration or biopsy, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of the biopsy, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).
Tell your doctor if you:
Arrange for someone to drive you home after the biopsy because you may be given a medicine (sedative) to help you relax.
How It Is Done
A bone marrow aspiration or biopsy is usually done by a hematologist, medical oncologist, internist, or pathologist, or by a specially trained technologist. A laboratory technologist may also help get the sample. This biopsy may be done in your doctor's office or in a hospital.
You may need to take off all or most of your clothes, depending on what part of the body the biopsy or aspiration is taken from. If needed, you will be given a gown to use during the biopsy.
Blood samples from a vein in your arm may be taken before the bone marrow biopsy. In rare cases, you may be given a blood product (clotting factor or platelets) into a vein (IV) in your arm to prevent bleeding after the biopsy.
Adults usually have a sample of bone marrow fluid taken from the back of the pelvic bone. In rare cases a fluid sample is removed from the breastbone (sternum) or from the front of the pelvic bone. Babies and young children may have the sample taken from the front of the lower leg bone, just below the knee. A bone marrow biopsy is only taken from the pelvic bone.
You may be given a sedative to help you relax. You will lie either on your side or facedown, on your belly, for the biopsy. It is important that you lie still in that position during the biopsy. See a picture of bone marrow aspiration and biopsy.
The skin over the aspiration site will be cleaned with a special solution and a medicine (local anesthetic) will be used to numb the area. Then the aspiration needle will be put through your skin and into your bone to reach the bone marrow. You need to lie very still while the sample is taken. The needle is then taken out. More than one sample may be needed, possibly from more than one place on your body, such as from both sides of the pelvic bone. You are more likely to need more than one sample if the biopsy is being done to stage a condition, such as lymphoma.
A bone marrow biopsy uses a special tool that twists into the bone. It is normal to feel pressure at the site and hear a crunching sound as the tool twists into the bone.
After the samples have been taken, pressure is put on the site to stop any bleeding. A bandage is put on the area.
Each biopsy takes about 20 minutes. After the biopsy, you will remain lying down for 30 to 60 minutes. If the bleeding has stopped, you may do your normal activities. If you have been given a sedative, you may need several hours to rest. If you have an aspiration and biopsy from several places on your body, you may be given pain medicines to take at home or you may need to stay in the hospital overnight.
How It Feels
This procedure may be painful, but only for a few seconds. You may feel a sharp sting and burn when the anesthetic numbs your skin over the aspiration or biopsy site. You may hear a crunching sound and feel pressure and some pain when the needle enters the bone. During an aspiration, you may feel a quick, shooting pain down your leg as the sample is taken.
The biopsy site may feel stiff or sore for several days after the biopsy. You may have a bruise on the site.
Serious problems from a bone marrow aspiration or biopsy are not common. Problems may include:
After the biopsy
You will lie down for 30 to 60 minutes after the biopsy so the site can be checked for bleeding. If you had a sedative, you will need someone to drive you home after the biopsy.
You may feel sore at the biopsy site for several days. Ice packs to the site, walking, and pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), can be used to help you feel better.
Call your doctor immediately if you have:
A bone marrow aspiration and biopsy removes a small amount of bone and a small amount of fluid and cells from inside the bone (bone marrow). It is often done to find the reason for many blood disorders and may be used to find out if cancer or infection has spread to the bone marrow.
Biopsy results are ready in 1 to 7 days. The bone is put into a solution that breaks down its calcium before it is stained. The bone marrow sample is often treated with special dyes (stains) to see any changes in the blood cells more clearly.
What Affects the Test
You may not be able to have the test if you:
Sometimes not enough bone marrow fluid is collected in a bone marrow aspiration. This is called a dry tap. If this happens, a biopsy to obtain bone marrow tissue is usually done.
What To Think About
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