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Bone Marrow Biopsy

Alternate Names

  • bone marrow aspiration

Definition

A bone marrow biopsy is a procedure in which a sample of cells are taken from the marrow, usually from a back wing of the pelvic bone but sometimes from the sternum (breast bone).

Who is a candidate for the procedure?

A person may undergo a bone marrow biopsy in order to:
  • diagnose different types of leukemia when a blood test shows suspicious cell changes
  • follow the response to a leukemia treatment
  • help in diagnosis and treatment of certain other cancers
  • diagnose and monitor the treatment of certain noncancerous blood disorders

How is the procedure performed?

First, the skin over the back wing of the pelvic bone is cleansed. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area. Sometimes a drug is given intravenously to help calm the person having the procedure. A hollow stainless steel needle is inserted into the back part of the pelvic bone.
Once it is inside the bone, a sample of the liquid marrow is drawn into the syringe. Sometimes a larger hollow needle is used to obtain a solid core specimen of marrow from the same area. No incision or sutures are needed. The sample taken is checked under a microscope for abnormal cells.

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