Diseases & Conditions

Bone Marrow Aspiration - Bone Marrow Biopsy


Overview & Description

A bone marrow biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of cells are taken from the marrow of the pelvic bone.

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

A person may undergo a bone marrow biopsy in order to:

  • diagnose different types of leukemia when a blood test shows suspicious cell changes
  • follow the response to a leukemia treatment
  • help in diagnosis and treatment of certain other cancers
  • diagnose and monitor the treatment of certain noncancerous blood disorders
  • How is the procedure performed?

    First, the skin over the rear of the pelvic bone is cleansed. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area. Sometimes a drug is given intravenously to help calm the person having the procedure. A hollow stainless steel needle is inserted into the back part of the pelvic bone. Once it is inside the bone, a sample of the liquid marrow is drawn into the syringe.

    Sometimes a larger hollow needle is used to obtain a solid core specimen of marrow from the same area. No incision or sutures are needed. The sample taken is checked under a microscope for abnormal cells.


    Preparation & Expectations

    What happens right after the procedure?

    The small wound is covered with a bandage. The individual is allowed to go home shortly after the procedure.


    Home Care and Complications

    What happens later at home?

    The wound in the bone closes by itself. Usually there is very little scarring. A bandage is left on for 24 hours, then removed. After that, no special care is needed. The person may experience some pain in the area for several days. Mild pain medications are taken as needed.

    What are the potential complications after the procedure?

    Rarely, a bone marrow biopsy may cause infection, slow bleeding at the site, or allergic reaction to anesthesia. A few people may have significant pain. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.


    Attribution

    Author:David T. Moran, MD
    Date Written:
    Editor:Crist, Gayle P., MS, BA
    Edit Date:06/01/01
    Reviewer:Melissa Sanders, PharmD
    Date Reviewed:06/01/01