Bone marrow biopsy


What Is a Bone Marrow Biopsy?

A bone marrow biopsy is a medical procedure commonly used to diagnose tumors, infections, and anemia or other disorders of the blood. It involves removing a sample of bone marrow, usually from the hipbone or breastbone, to be examined under a microscope.

Why Is a Bone Marrow Biopsy Performed?

A bone marrow biopsy may be performed to determine the cause of a person’s low red blood cell count, which can be indicative of a number of different health issues. In some cases, it may be ordered to diagnose or monitor how well someone is responding to cancer treatment.

Types of Bone Marrow Biopsy

There are two types of bone marrow biopsy:

  • Core biopsy: The most common type of bone marrow biopsy, a core biopsy involves removing a small sample of bone marrow with a long, hollow needle. It is commonly used to diagnose infections or disorders that can't be diagnosed with a less invasive procedure.
  • Puncture biopsy: This skin biopsy involves making a small puncture in the skin to obtain a bone marrow sample. It is not as common as a core biopsy, and is usually only used if the patient is unable to have a core biopsy.

Preparation for Bone Marrow Biopsy

Before a bone marrow biopsy, patients should discuss any allergies and medical conditions they have with their doctor. They also need to sign a consent form confirming that they understand the risks of the procedure. In some cases, a sedative may be given to relax the patient.

Procedure for a Bone Marrow Biopsy

During a bone marrow biopsy, the patient will be seated in a reclined position and asked to cover the site where the biopsy will be done with a sterile cloth. Then, the doctor will use a long, hollow needle to remove a sample of bone marrow and bone from the hipbone or breastbone. The sample will then be sent to a laboratory for testing and analysis.

Risks of Bone Marrow Biopsy

A bone marrow biopsy is generally safe and complication-free, though there is a small risk of infection, excessive bleeding, or bruising at the site of the biopsy.

When to Get a Bone Marrow Biopsy

A bone marrow biopsy should be considered if a patient is experiencing signs or symptoms of a blood disorder or if a blood test reveals abnormal levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets. It is also generally recommended if a person has a family history of blood disorders.