Bone Marrow Biopsy Procedure Guide
What Is a Bone Marrow Biopsy?
A bone marrow biopsy is the removal of soft tissue and liquid, called marrow, from inside bone. The bone marrow is where blood stem cells are stored. These stem cells develop into the red and white cells and platelets needed throughout life. During a bone marrow biopsy, a sample of bone marrow is withdrawn through a needle for study under a microscope.
What is the purpose of a Bone Marrow Biopsy?
Your doctor may order a bone marrow biopsy procedure if you have an abnormal number of red or white cells or platelets. This test provides information about how your cells are being formed and the number and type of cells present. A bone marrow biopsy can help to diagnose blood disorders, some types of anemia, infections, and leukemia. It can also give helpful information about the spread of cancer and response to cancer treatment.
How long will the procedure take?
A marrow sample can be collected in less than 10 minutes. You are asked to stay for at least 15 minutes after the biopsy to be observed for bleeding if you did not receive sedation. If you receive medicine in your IV for pain or to help you relax, you stay 30-60 minutes for recovery.
What do I need to do to get ready?
• Take your normal medicines on the day of your procedure.
• There is no need to stop blood thinners or aspirin before your procedure.
If you are having a sedated procedure:
• Do not eat solids or drink milk for 6 hours before the procedure. You may drink clear liquids for up to 2 hours before the procedure.
• You need to have someone drive you home after the procedure. Wait to drive or make important decisions until the next day.
Where will the sample be taken?
The marrow sample is most often taken from the back hipbone but can be taken from other areas too. You are asked to lie face down with your upper hip area exposed. The procedure takes place in the clinic or your hospital room.
What will the procedure be like?
First, your doctor will press gently on your skin on top of the bone being sampled. Next, your doctor washes the skin with a cleaning agent, which may feel cold. Sterile towels are placed around the area. To decrease pain, your doctor injects a numbing medicine. You will feel a "stick" from the needle, and a burning feeling as the medicine enters the area. It takes about a minute for the anesthetic to take effect.
Aspiration: Once the area is numb, a small slit is made into your skin. Next a special needle is put through your skin into the bone. Your doctor puts slight force on the needle as it enters the bone. You may feel some pressure. After the needle is in, a syringe is attached to take some of the fluid, which contains cells. As your doctor pulls fluid into the syringe, you may feel a sharp pain, deep inside your bone. This lasts about a few seconds. Your nurse lets you know when the doctor pulls the fluid. Taking deep breaths or using a relaxation technique often helps. Ask your nurse if you would like help with this.
Biopsy: Through the same spot, a special needle cuts out a tiny piece of bone, called a core. You may feel pressure and pain as the needle is turned and the core is obtained. The needle with the core is removed and a bandage or dressing is applied to the skin.
Is there any special care after the procedure?
Keep the dressing or bandage dry and in place for 24 hours. As the anesthetic wears off, you may need medicine for pain. Take _________________________________ for mild pain.
It is rare for bleeding to happen. You are asked to lie on the biopsy site for at least 15 minutes. The site is checked for bleeding during your recovery. If you notice bleeding after going home, hold steady and firm pressure to the site. Call your doctor or nurse if bleeding from the site doesn’t stop.
Bleeding into your abdomen is rare. If your pain gets worse in your lower back, hips, or belly, or you start to feel dizzy or lightheaded, call your doctor right away.
You may resume most activities. Heavy lifting, jogging, or other strenuous activities may make the pain in the biopsy site last longer.
When will I know the results?
Your doctor may have preliminary results back within 48-72 hours, but complete results can take 7 days. Please call clinic if you have not heard from us after 1 week.
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 06/24/2013
Copyright © 06/24/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4458
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