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Bone Marrow Biopsy

Bone Marrow Biopsy Introduction

Bone marrow is the spongy material found in substantial amouts in the center of most large bones in the body. The different cells that make up blood are made in the bone marrow after birth. Prior to our birth, this activity primarily goes on in the liver and slpeen. Bone marrow produces red blood cells for energy and the transportation of oxygen to the tissues, white blood cells to fight infection and support our immune systems, and platelets to help our blood clot. During the biopsy procedure (properly called bone marrow aspiration and biopsy), the liquid portion of the marrow is sampled by aspiration, and then the solid portion of the marrow and surrounding bone are taken in the biopsy.

  • Why the procedure is performed: A bone marrow aspiration and biopsy procedure is done for many reasons.
    • The test allows the doctor to evaluate bone marrow function. It may aid in the diagnosis of low numbers of red blood cells (anemia), low numbers of white blood cells (leukopenia), or low numbers of platelets (thrombocytopenia), or an abnormal appearance these types of blood cells.
    • The doctor can also determine the cause of some infections, diagnose tumors, determine how far a disease, such as lymphoma, has progressed or spread, and evaluate the effectiveness of chemotherapy or other bone marrow active drugs.
  • Where the procedure is performed: Bone marrow aspirations and biopsies can be performed in doctor's offices, outpatient clinics, and hospitals. The procedure itself takes 10 to 20 minutes with much of that time taken both cleaning the skin over and then numbing the surface of the area to be sampled.

Bone Marrow Biopsy Risks

The patient will be asked to sign a consent form before the procedure. He or she will be notified of the alternatives as well as the potential risks and complications of this procedure.

Possible risks include these:

  • Persistent bleeding and infection
  • Pain during the procedure
  • A reaction to the local anesthetic or sedative, if one is used
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2016
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Patient Comments & Reviews

The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Bone Marrow Biopsy:

Bone Marrow Biopsy - Experience

Why did you have a bone marrow biopsy performed?

Bone Marrow Biopsy Pain

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.

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