Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside bones that helps form blood cells. It is found in the hollow part of most bones. Bone marrow aspiration is the removal of a small amount of this tissue in liquid form for examination.
Bone marrow aspiration is not the same as bone marrow biopsy. A biopsy removes actual marrow for examination.
Bone marrow aspiration may be done in the health care provider's office or in a hospital. The bone marrow is removed from your pelvic or breast bone. Occasionally, another bone is selected.
Marrow is removed in the following steps:
The bone marrow fluid is sent to a laboratory and examined under a microscope.
Tell the health care provider:
You must sign a consent form for the procedure.
You will feel a sting and slight burning sensation when the numbing medicine is applied. You may feel pressure as the needle is inserted into the bone, and a sharp and usually painful sucking sensation as the marrow is removed. This feeling lasts for only a few seconds.
Your doctor may order this test if you have abnormal types or numbers of red or white blood cells or platelets on a complete blood count.
This test is used to diagnose:
It may help determine whether cancers have spread or responded to treatment.
The bone marrow should contain the proper number and types of:
Abnormal results may be due to cancers of the bone marrow, including:
Abnormal results may also be due to other causes, such as:
There may be some bleeding at the puncture site. More serious risks, such as serious bleeding or infection, are very rare.
Iliac crest tap; Sternal tap
Choby B. Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. In: Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC, eds. Pfenninger & Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2010:chap 205.
Hutchison RE, McPherson RA, Schexneider KI. Basic examination of blood and bone marrow. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 30.
Updated by: Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2014, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.