In the center of most large bones there is a soft tissue called bone marrow. Bone marrow makes most of the body's blood cells.
You have both red and yellow bone marrow. Red bone marrow is the active part that makes red blood cells. Yellow bone marrow contains fat cells. In adults, red bone marrow is found in the flat bones, such as the upper hipbones, and the breastbone. In children, the red bone marrow is in the long bones, such as the femur.
A bone marrow biopsy involves removing tissue from the red bone marrow. The tissue is sent to the lab for microscopic exam. The biopsy is done using a small needle inserted into the bone. A local anesthetic agent may be given before the procedure.
A bone marrow biopsy is usually done if your health care provider thinks that you have a problem with blood cell production. A pathologist in the lab examines blood and bone marrow samples. By using a microscope with special lab techniques, the pathologist can check the bone marrow for any of the following:
There may be other reasons for your health care provider to recommend a bone marrow biopsy.
As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Some possible complications may include:
There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your health care provider prior to the procedure.
A bone marrow biopsy may be done on an outpatient basis. Or you may stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor's practices.
A bone marrow biopsy is commonly done using a pelvic bone, but another bone (such as the breastbone) may be used. In a child, a leg bone or vertebra (bone in the spine) may be used.
Generally, a bone marrow biopsy follows this process:
Once you are home, it is important for you to keep the biopsy area clean and dry. Your doctor will give you specific bathing instructions. Leave the bandage in place for as long as instructed by your doctor. This is usually the next day.
The biopsy site may be tender or sore for several days after the bone marrow biopsy. Take a pain reliever for soreness as recommended by your health care provider. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications.
Tell your health care provider to report any of the following:
You may go back to your usual diet and activities unless your health care provider advises you differently.
Your health care provider may give you other instructions after the procedure, depending on your situation.
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