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Bone Marrow Biopsy (cont.)

Bone Marrow Biopsy Preparation

  • The patient may receive instructions about not eating food or drinking liquids before the procedure if sedation is to be used for the test.
  • The patient should be sure to tell the doctor about any prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, as well as herbal supplements he or she is taking.
  • The patient should notify the doctor about all allergies, previous reactions to medications, if he or she has had any bleeding problems in the past, or if she is pregnant.
  • Before the procedure, the patient will be asked to change into a patient gown.
  • The patient's vital signs -- blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature -- will be measured.
  • Depending on the doctor, the patient may have an IV placed or have blood drawn.
  • The patient may be given some medicine to help him or her relax.
  • The patient may be asked to position him or herself on the stomach or on the side depending on the site the doctor chooses to use.

During the Bone Marrow Biopsy Procedure

  • The doctor will choose a place to withdraw bone marrow. Often this is the back of the hip bone (iliac crest of the pelvis), but it also can be done from the breastbone (sternum), lower leg bone (tibia), or backbone (vertebra).
  • The chosen site will be cleaned with a special soap (iodine solution) or alcohol. After the skin is clean, sterile towels will be placed around the area. It is important the patient des not touch this area once it has become sterile.
  • Local anesthetic, usually lidocaine, will be injected with a tiny needle at the site. Initially, there may be a little sting followed by a burning sensation. After a few minutes, the site will become numb. The bone marrow needle is then placed through the skin and into the bone. The patient may feel a pressure sensation.
    • For the bone marrow aspiration, a small amount of the liquid portion of the bone marrow is then pulled into a syringe. This results in a deep ache at the time of the aspiration due to the suction applied.
    • A bone marrow biopsy is then usually done with a needle that is pressed with a twisting motion further down into the bone and a small, cylindrical sample of bone and marrow is taken up into the needle. This part results in more pressure and sometimes a sharp pain as the numbing medicine does not get to the inside of the bone.
  • The wound site may bleed a small amount, so pressure is applied for a few minutes. A sterile bandage is then applied.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/23/2016
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