A bone marrow biopsy involves removing a small sample of the bone marrow inside your bones for testing. Bone marrow is a soft tissue in the center of most large bones. It makes most of the body's blood cells.
The biopsy is done using a small needle inserted into the bone. The bone marrow tissue is removed and then sent to a lab and checked under a microscope. You may be given a shot (injection) of a local anesthetic before the biopsy. This will numb the area so you don’t feel any pain.
A bone marrow biopsy is usually done if your healthcare provider thinks that you have a problem making blood cells. A specialist called a pathologist examines blood and bone marrow samples in a lab. The pathologist can check your bone marrow for any of the following:
There may be other reasons for your healthcare provider to recommend a bone marrow biopsy.
As with any procedure, problems can occur. Some possible complications may include:
You may have other risks that are unique to you. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.
A bone marrow biopsy may be done on an outpatient basis. This means you go home the same day. Or you may stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your provider’s practices.
A bone marrow biopsy is often done using a pelvic bone, but another bone (such as the breastbone) may be used. In a child, a leg bone or a bone in the spine (vertebra) may be used.
Generally, a bone marrow biopsy follows this process:
Once you are home, it is important to keep the biopsy area clean and dry. Your healthcare provider will give you specific bathing instructions. Leave the bandage in place for as long as directed by your provider. This is often until the next day.
Take a pain reliever as recommended by your provider. Aspirin or other pain medicines may raise your risk of bleeding. Be sure to take only medicines your healthcare provider has approved.
Call your provider if you have any of the following:
You may go back to your usual diet and activities unless your healthcare provider advises you differently.
Your healthcare provider may give you other instructions, depending on your situation.