Bone Marrow Harvest

Bone marrow is the sponge-like substance found in the center of your bones. Bone marrow is the blood-forming organ in your body. New blood cells are formed every day to replace cells that wear out. The bone marrow makes red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

  • Red Blood Cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
  • White Blood Cells help fight infections.
  • Platelets help blood clot and also prevent bleeding.

A bone marrow harvest is the removal and collection of bone marrow which is given to the recipient or stored until it is reinfused at the time of transplantation. Bone marrow is collected by inserting a needle through the skin into the inner cavity of the bone.

The back hip bone (iliac crest) is usually used; however, the front hip bone is another site that may be used.

Before the Procedure

  • You will have a complete history taken, a physical exam and blood tests (including hepatitis and HIV).
  • A chest x-ray and electrocardiogram (ECG) will be performed. You will visit with the anesthesiologist to discuss the type of anesthesia you will receive.
  • Do not take aspirin or any products containing aspirin for three days prior to the harvest.

During the Procedure

When the anesthetic has taken effect, a special needle will be inserted through the skin two or three times on each side of the rear bones, and possibly the front bones. For each skin puncture, there are many bone punctures. Generally one or two quarts of bone marrow are collected. If your doctor determines that it is necessary, a blood transfusion will be given. The harvest process takes 2 to 3 hours.

After the Procedure

Pressure bandages will be applied to the harvest sites, with steri- strips under the dressing. You will be taken to the Recovery Room where you will stay for 1-2 hours. Your doctor will discharge you later that day.

Home Instructions

  • You will be sore and may have some pain at the harvest sites. You may take Tylenol®, a prescribed pain medication, and/or use a heating pad. Your doctor may also order additional medicine for pain relief, to be taken as directed if you need it. If so, please follow the instructions given. Do not take Tylenol with other pain medicines unless approved by the doctor. You should not take aspirin, Motrin®, Advil®, Aleve® or other similar medicines for 48 hours after surgery.
  • No driving for the remainder of the day and the next 4 days, or as prescribed by your transplant physician.
  • To avoid dizzy spells, move slowly when changing your position for the next 48 hours. When getting out of bed, sit on the side a minute or two before standing up.
  • The pressure dressings should be left on for 24 hours after the procedure. Do not remove steri-strips; allow them to fall off.
  • You may take a shower 24 hours after the procedure, after removing the dressing. No tub baths are allowed for 48 hours after your procedure.
  • No strenuous activity or heavy lifting for at least 1 week.
  • No twisting at the waist for 1 week.
  • No heavy exercise for 2 weeks.
  • You may walk as tolerated. (Walking may relieve discomfort.)

When to Call the Doctor

Please call 716-845-2300 and state that you are a Transplant Service Patient if you have any of the following:

  • Drainage or swelling at the procedure site
  • Bleeding at the procedure site (apply pressure to the site)
  • Pain
  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°) or higher
  • Nausea and/or vomiting