Bone Marrow Aspiration: Significance of the Procedure

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Bone Marrow Aspiration Overview

Bone marrow aspiration, also referred to as bone marrow sampling is a type of procedure where bone marrow cells are sucked up into a syringe. The cells are then analyzed in the laboratory for the presence of abnormal cells. The purpose of bone marrow aspiration is for the diagnosis of certain types of anemia, blood disorders, infections and leukemia. Another type of test performed on the bone marrow is the bone core biopsy, also referred to as needle core biopsy. In needle core biopsy, a small and intact portion of the bone marrow is often removed. This test reveals the structures inside the bone marrow, such as the fat cells and white blood cells, among many other cells.

Bone Marrow Aspiration Procedure

The pathologist, oncologist and hematologist, are often the ones who perform the bone marrow aspiration procedure. The breast bone and pelvic bone, are the usual sites for bone marrow aspiration in adults. In children, the site is frequently in the leg bone.

In doing a bone marrow aspiration, a doctor first injects local anesthesia on the hip bone area, in order to numb the area. He then inserts a thin needle through the skin, into the sternum or hip bone, and into the central part of the bone where the marrow is located. A needle is connected to a syringe. The doctor would then extracts about a cubic milliliter of bone marrow cells into the syringe.

While there is no special preparation needed before having this procedure, some people opt to take a sedative before the procedure. This is particularly recommended for children. Whenever a person takes a sedative for this procedure he is often advised to stay at the clinic or hospital until the drowsy feeling wears off. He would also have to be accompanied by another person when going home.

After the Procedure

After the bone marrow aspiration, the hip may feel some pain in the next couple of days. Using mild painkillers, and other medications prescribed by the doctor can help in relieving the pain. It may take some time for the results to come through. Usually, the results for a bone marrow aspiration can take up to a couple of weeks to be released.

The sample of the bone marrow is sent to a medical laboratory the moment it has been removed from the syringe, and then examined under a microscope by a pathologist. In order to accomplish this, specialists may have to stain the cells so that various types of cells are displayed more accurately. The staining techniques may take 2-3 days depending on the requirements of the procedure. The report of the pathologist on the bone marrow sample will then be forwarded to the doctor of the patient.

It is usually normal for a person who has undergone bone marrow aspiration to feel anxious while waiting for the results of the procedure to come out. The important thing however is to always seek the advice of the specialist once the results have been released. This way, the proper steps in management of any disease that may be diagnosed through the procedure, are given promptly.


Encyclopedia of Surgery: Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy

MedlinePlus: Bone Marrow Aspiration