Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside most bones such as those in your hip and thigh. Red marrow contains mature cells, which do not reproduce, and immature cells, which can reproduce. Parent cells, which are also immature, are called stem cells. Ultimately, stem cells will become:
A bone marrow aspirate is the removal of a sample of the marrow inside the bone. A bone marrow biopsy is the removal of a small piece of hard bone along with marrow.
The Purpose of a Bone Marrow Aspirate and Biopsy
This test is done when the results of a complete blood count (CBC) show abnormal types or numbers of platelets, red blood cells, or white blood cells or to evaluate whether other diseases are present in the marrow. The test may find the cause of the abnormality: some types of anemia (not enough red blood cells), certain types of blood and lymph cancers, or platelet abnormalities. Additional aspirates and biopsies will be used to monitor your response to treatment.
Stop taking all nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) 3 days prior to the procedure. This group includes over-the-counter and prescription medications such as:
Check with your doctor to see if your instructions will be different.
You must sign a consent form giving permission for the biopsy. You are encouraged to ask questions to understand the procedure; its risks, and benefits.
During the Procedure
The bone marrow aspirate and biopsy (marrow and bone sample) is usually taken from the back of the hip bone. The skin is cleansed, and a local anesthetic is injected to numb the area. An aspirate is usually done first. Once the skin is numb, the aspirate needle is inserted into the bone and a syringe is used to withdraw the liquid marrow. After the aspiration is done, either the needle will be removed and repositioned or another needle will be inserted into the bone for the biopsy. The core of the needle is removed and a tiny sample of the bone and marrow is forced up into the needle. The needle is removed, pressure is applied to stop any bleeding, and a pressure bandage is applied.
How the Procedure Will Feel
There will be a sharp sting from injecting the medication to numb the skin. Since the interior of the bone cannot be anesthetized, this test may cause some discomfort. As the aspirate is withdrawn, there may be a brief, sharp pain. The biopsy may also produce a brief pain, usually more dull. Not everyone will experience these symptoms.
After Your Bone Marrow Aspirate
You will recover in your room, where we will monitor you and check your dressing. You will be discharged shortly after the procedure. Walking may relieve any discomfort you have following the procedure.
Persistent bleeding and/or infection are possible; they occur rarely and can be controlled.
Call Roswell Park if you have: