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Bone Marrow Aspiration


Bone Marrow Aspiration: In General

Bone marrow is soft tissue inside the hollow area of bones. Bone marrow helps form blood cells. Bone marrow aspiration is the removal of a small amount of bone marrow tissue, generally from a pelvic or breast bone.

Bone Marrow Aspiration: The Procedure

Bone marrow aspiration may be done in the health care provider's office or in a hospital. 

  • Step 1. A health care provider will clean the skin and apply a numbing medicine (local anesthesia) to the area and surface of the bone. You will feel a sting and slight burning sensation when the numbing medicine is applied. (If you have a great deal of fear about the procedure, ask for a medication to help you relax).
  • Step 2. A special needle is inserted into the bone. The needle has a tube attached to it, which creates suction. A small sample of bone marrow fluid flows into the tube.You may feel pressure as the needle is inserted into the bone, and a sharp and sometimes painful sucking sensation as the marrow is removed. This feeling lasts for only a few moments.
  • Step 3. The needle is removed.

A laboratory specialist looks at the bone marrow fluid under a microscope and creates a report for your doctor. You can, and should, get a copy of the report and keep it with your copy of your medical records. (For information about why and how to keep a copy of your medical records, see "To Learn More.")

NOTE: There may be some bleeding at the puncture site. More serious risks, such as serious bleeding or infection, are very rare.

Bone Marrow Aspiration: How To Prepare

The only thing for you to do is to let your doctor or other health care provider know ahead of time:

  • If you are allergic to any medications
  • If you are pregnant
  • If you have bleeing problems
  • All the prescription and over-the-counter drugs, recreational drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements you are taking. Survivorship A to Z provides a form List of Medications to help you keep track. (You should carry a copy of the list with you at all times).
  • If you have a great deal of fear and would like a drug to help you relax. (Before taking the drug, as with any drug, learn the benefits and risks. Compare them to  your needs. For instance, if you have to work, you may not want a drug that will affect your thinking).

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