Bone Marrow Biopsy Procedure Guide
What Is a Bone Marrow Biopsy?
A bone marrow biopsy is the removal of
soft tissue and liquid, called marrow,
from inside bone. The bone marrow is
where blood stem cells are stored. These
stem cells develop into the red and white
blood cells and platelets needed
throughout life. During a bone marrow
biopsy, a sample of bone marrow is
withdrawn through a needle for study
under a microscope.
What is the purpose of a Bone
Your doctor may order a bone marrow
biopsy if you have an abnormal number
of red or white blood cells or platelets.
This test provides information about
how your cells are being formed and the
number and type of cells present. A
bone marrow biopsy can help to find
blood disorders, some types of anemia,
infections, and leukemia. It can also
give helpful information about the
spread of cancer and response to cancer
How long will the procedure take?
A marrow sample can be collected in
less than 10 minutes. You are asked to
stay for at least 15 minutes after the
biopsy to watch for bleeding. If you
received sedation (medicine in your IV
for pain or to help you relax), you must
stay 30-60 minutes for recovery.
What do I need to do to get ready?
ξ Take your normal medicines on
the day of your procedure.
There is no need to stop blood thinners
or aspirin before your procedure.
Additionally, if you are having a
ξ Do not eat solids or drink milk
for 6 hours before the procedure.
You may drink clear liquids for
up to 2 hours before the
procedure, or as directed by your
ξ You need to have someone drive
you home after the procedure.
Wait to drive until the next day.
ξ Wait to make important decisions
until the next day.
Where will the sample be taken?
The marrow sample is most often taken
from the back hipbone. It can be taken
from other areas too. You will be asked
to lie face down with your upper hip area
What will the procedure be like?
First, your doctor will press gently on
your skin on top of the bone being
sampled. Next, your doctor washes the
skin with a cleaning agent, which may
feel cold. Sterile towels are placed
around the area. To decrease pain, your
doctor injects a numbing medicine
(anesthetic). You will feel a "stick" from
the needle. Then a burning feeling as the
medicine enters the area. It takes about
a minute for the numbing medicine to
Once the area is numb, a small slit is
made into your skin. Next, a special
needle is put through your skin into the
bone. Your doctor puts slight force on
the needle as it enters the bone. You
may feel some pressure. After the
needle is in, a syringe is attached. This is
to take out some of the fluid, which
contains cells. Your doctor pulls fluid
into the syringe. This is also known as
bone marrow aspiration. You may feel a
sharp pain, deep inside your bone. This
lasts a few seconds. Your nurse lets you
know when the doctor pulls the fluid.
Taking deep breaths or using a
relaxation technique may help. Ask
your nurse if you would like help with
Through the same spot, a special needle
cuts out a tiny piece of bone, called a
core. You may feel pressure and pain as
the needle is turned and the core is
obtained. This is also known as a bone
marrow biopsy. The needle with the
core is removed and a bandage or
dressing is applied to the skin.
Afterwards, you will be asked to lie on
the biopsy site for at least 15 minutes.
The site is checked for bleeding during
your recovery. Your vital signs will also
be monitored if you received medicines
Is there any special care after the
Keep the dressing or bandage dry and in
place for 24 hours. As the numbing
medicine wears off, you may need
medicine for pain.
for mild pain.
It is rare for bleeding to happen. If you
notice bleeding after going home, hold
steady and firm pressure to the site. Call
your doctor or nurse if bleeding from the
site doesn’t stop.
Bleeding into your belly is rare. If your
pain gets worse in your lower back, hips,
or belly, or you start to feel dizzy or
lightheaded, call your doctor right away.
You may resume most activities. Heavy
lifting, jogging, or other strenuous
activities may make the pain in the
biopsy site last longer.
When will I know the results?
Your doctor may have preliminary
results back within 48-72 hours, but
complete results can take 7 days. Please
call clinic if you have not heard from us
after 1 week.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call
if you have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with
your doctor. This is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical
condition. Because each person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on
your health care team when using this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911.
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