Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy

Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
Bone marrow is the soft tissue in the center of many bones of your body. Its function is to make blood
cells. Your child may need to have a bone marrow test done for several reasons. Your child’s medical
team can test to see if the marrow is making blood cells as it should be, if leukemia or tumor cells are
present or to check results of treatment.
The bone marrow can be tested by aspiration or by biopsy. Aspiration means to draw some liquid
marrow out through a needle, and biopsy means to take out a small piece of solid marrow through a
needle. The hip bone is used most often for these tests.
How the test is done
Your child will be sedated prior to performing the bone marrow aspirate or biopsy. During a bone
marrow test, the doctor will feel your child’s lower back to find the right spot for the test. A bone
marrow needle will be pushed through the numbed skin into your child’s bone marrow. The doctor will
pull some liquid marrow into a syringe. This is the end of the bone marrow aspiration.
Sometimes, the doctor will need to do a bone marrow biopsy. If so, the doctor will do this procedure
after the aspiration. Using the special needle, the doctor will remove a small piece of solid bone
marrow through the needle. Now the biopsy is over. The doctor will take the needle out of your child’s
back, and the nurse will clean the spot with alcohol and put on a bandage.
After the test
Staff members will study the bone marrow under a microscope. Some studies take only one day, but
others may take weeks. Your child’s doctor will discuss the results of the bone marrow test with you
and your child.
You should remove the bandage two to four hours after the test to allow air around the test spot for
healing. If your child’s back is sore, he or she can have Tylenol. Your doctor can tell you how much
Tylenol your child should take.
Adapted with permission from St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Revised 6/03
UC Davis Cancer Center 12/06
w w w. u c d m c . u c d a v i s . e d u / c a n c e r
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