Bone Marrow Procedure Guide (Aspiration and Biopsy)
What Is a Bone Marrow Biopsy?
During a bone marrow biopsy, a sample of bone marrow is withdrawn through a needle for study under a microscope. Think of your bone marrow as a wet sponge. Aspiration sucks out some fluid from the sponge. Biopsy cuts out a tiny piece of the sponge (marrow).
What is the purpose of a Bone Marrow Biopsy?
Your bone marrow contains stem cells or “parent” cells that make blood cells. Once the blood cells mature they exit from the marrow space into the blood. Your doctor needs to examine how your blood cells are being formed, the number and type of cells, the amount of iron present, or if there are any signs of tumor or infection. A sample of blood cannot reveal all aspects of this process, so it is needed to take a sample from your bone marrow.
How long will the procedure take?
It will take about 20 minutes. If you receive medicine that makes you sleepy, you will need 50-60 minutes for recovery.
Will I have to make any special preparations?
- If you are at risk for bleeding, you may receive a platelet transfusion before the procedure.
- You cannot eat or drink for 6 hours before the biopsy.
- Plan to have someone with you to drive you home. A medicine that makes you sleepy is often used. You should not drive or make important decisions until the next day.
Where will the sample be taken?
The marrow sample is usually taken from the back hipbone but can be taken from other areas too. You will be asked to lie face down with your upper hip area exposed. The procedure will take 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, the doctor will wash the skin with a cleaning agent, which may feel cold. Sterile towels will be placed around the area. To keep pain at a minimum, your doctor will inject a numbing medicine. You will feel a "stick" from the needle, and a burning feeling as the drug enters the area. It takes a minute for the anesthetic to take effect.
Aspiration: Once the area is numb, a special needle will be put through your skin into the bone. The doctor will put slight force on the needle as it enters the bone. You may feel some pressure. After the needle is in, a syringe will be attached to take some of the fluid, which contains cells. As the physician is pulling some fluid into the syringe, you may feel a sharp pain, dep inside your bone. But it lasts only a few seconds. Taking deep breathes, or using a relaxation technique often helps. Ask your nurse about this.
Biopsy: Through the same spot, a special needle will cut out a tiny piece of bone, called a core. Most patients will feel pressure and pain as the needle is turned and the core is obtained. The needle with the core will then be removed and a bandaid or dressing will be applied to the skin. the entire procedure often takes no more than eight to ten minutes.
Is There Any Special Care Afterwards?
Keep the dressing/bandaid dry and in place for 24 hours. As the anesthetic wears off, you may need something for pain. Take _________________________________ for mild pain.
Bleeding at the site occurs rarely. You may be asked to lie on the site for about 30 minutes. The site will be checked for bleeding. If you have a low platelet count, you will need to put pressure on the site longer. Call your nurse if you feel the dressing is wet.
Bleeding into the abdomen is rare. If your pain gets worse in your lower back, hips, or belly, or you begin to feel dizzy or lightheaded, call your doctor right away.
You may resume most activities. Heavy lifting, jogging, or other strenuous activities may prolong pain in the biopsy site.
How Long Before the Results Are Known?
Most often, your doctor will have the results in 48 to 72 hours.
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: 12/10/2012
Copyright © 02/15/2011 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4458
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