Bone Marrow BiopsyEn Español (Spanish Version)
A bone marrow biopsy is the removal of a sample of bone marrow for testing.
Bone Marrow Biopsy
© 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.
Parts of the Body Involved
The procedure is most commonly performed on the pelvic bone, but is sometimes done on the sternum.
Reasons for Procedure
In response to an abnormal blood test (one revealing too many or too few red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets), a bone marrow biopsy is performed for the:
- Evaluation of unexplained anemia , low white cells count (leucopenia), low platelets count (thrombocytopenia)
- Diagnosis and staging of lymphoma (tumors of the lymphoid tissues) or solid tumors
- Diagnosis, monitoring and evaluation of leukemias
- Evaluation of iron metabolism and stores
- Evaluation of fever of undetermined origin
- Investigation of unexplained splenic enlargement (splenomegaly)
- Evaluation of suspected chromosomal disorders in neonates
- Confirmation that the bone marrow is normal in a potential bone marrow donor
Risk Factors for Complications
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your physician will perform a physical exam and blood tests.
Anesthesia and possibly, a light sedation will be administered.
Local anesthesia is used for bone marrow biopsies.
Description of the Procedure
Just before the procedure, you may be given a light sedative to help you relax. The area of your pelvis from which the biopsy will be taken is cleaned with an antiseptic, and numbed with a local anesthetic.
A hollow biopsy needle is inserted into the bone, and simultaneously advanced and twisted, to force a sample of bone marrow into the core of the needle. The doctor may need to use a fair amount of pressure and may need to rock the needle to get a sufficient sample. As the needle is withdrawn, the bone marrow sample is extracted. After the needle is removed, pressure and then a bandage are applied over the area that was punctured.
The bone marrow specimen will be examined by a pathologist.
How Long Will It Take?
The procedure typically takes about 30 minutes.
Will It Hurt?
The injection of local anesthetic may sting or burn. You may notice a sensation of pressure and/or pain as the biopsy needle is rocked to obtain the sample.
Average Hospital Stay
The test may be performed in your doctor's office, and you can go home afterwards. A hospital stay is not necessary
You should be able to resume your normal activities after your bone marrow biopsy. If you have had a sedative, you'll be advised to avoid driving or operating equipment until the effects of the medication have worn off.
The pathologist will give your doctor information about the bone marrow, which will help your doctor make a diagnosis.
National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
BC Cancer Agency
Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario
Bone marrow biopsy. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: wwwnlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003934.htm . Accessed October 30, 2006.
Procedures for Primary Care Physicians . Mosby-Year Book;1994.
Wintrobe's Clinical Hematology . 10th ed. Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins;1999.
Last reviewed November 2007 by Mohei Abouzied, MD
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