10 Essentials About Bone Marrow Biopsy

bone marrow biopsy procedure
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The bone marrow is a spongy tissue found inside bones that plays an important role in human functioning. Bone marrow manufactures blood stem cells that develop into red blood cells, white blood cells, and the platelets.

The three blood components have a very important job of each own: the red blood cells carry oxygen to the tissues of the body; the white blood cells contribute to the immune system by protecting the body against infectious diseases or foreign substances that enter the body; and the platelets help prevent the body from bleeding.

An unhealthy bone marrow can make a person at high risk of suffering from numerous diseases or medical conditions. The complications can be serious and life-threatening especially when not treated as soon as possible.

What Is A Bone Marrow Biopsy

Bone marrow biopsy, also called trephination, is a procedure where a small sample of the bone marrow is withdrawn by inserting a needle that passes through the outside portion of the bone and into the middle of the bone where the marrow is located.


Bone Marrow Biopsy Procedure

1. Who can perform the procedure and where is it performed:

The medical team for bone marrow biopsy is composed of:

Hematologists, a doctor that specializes in evaluating and treating blood diseases. Second is the pathologist, a doctor who specializes in the interpretation of laboratory tests and evaluation of cells, tissues, and organs of the body for the diagnosis of an underlying disease/s; and lastly is the oncologist who specializes in the treatment of cancer.

The procedure is performed in the hospital but mostly in the out-patient treatment room or health care office.

2. Bone marrow biopsy is used to diagnose cancer

The bone marrow procedure allows doctors to obtain specific information they need in the treatment of a patient.

For example, it is used to determine any traces of blood cancer in the body, the extent on how much the cancer has spread to other organs, the staging of the cancer; or simply used to evaluate the effectiveness of chemotherapy and other treatment methods, whether they are working or not.

Several types of cancer can be diagnosed through a bone marrow biopsy.

3. Why is it performed?

The doctor may order performing the procedure once blood test results show a low level or decreasing amount of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.

It will allow the doctor to check any suspected diseases and determine the specific problem that may be causing the blood stem cells to decrease or increase in comparison to normal levels.

Bone marrow biopsy is actually a very important procedure especially in individuals with an underlying cancer.

4. Parts of the body to take the sample

For babies and young children, the sample will be taken on a part of the lower leg bone, just below the knee.

And for adults, it can be performed on the chest bone, the top ridge of the rear hipbone or pelvic bone, the lower leg bone, and the back bone.

An anesthesia is injected on the area where the sample will be taken before doing the actual procedure.

5. Bone Marrow Biopsy Pain

It should not be frightening to undergo bone marrow biopsy. The doctors will give you time to prepare and provide you with instructions before and after the procedure.

Bone marrow biopsy may have risks when performed but these cases are very rare to happen.

Now, does a bone marrow biopsy hurt? It may be painful after the procedure is performed when effects of the anesthesia wears off but you can easily relieve the pain with the use of over-the-counter medicines prescribed and the pain won’t last long.

6. Diseases diagnosed through biopsy:

Blood disorders such as anemia, leukemia (a deadly progressive disease in which the bone marrow produces a higher level or increased number of immature or abnormal white blood cells that suppress the normal production of other blood cells), multiple myeloma (a tumor in the bone marrow), lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph nodes that has spread out in the bone marrow), can be identified.

7. Preparation for the procedure

When you are scheduled for bone marrow biopsy, the doctor will give instructions to help you prepare prior to the procedure.

There is no food or drinking restrictions with the bone marrow test. But if you are taking any medications or have any problems regarding the procedure, you should let the doctor know so that he may suggest anything that needs to be done before the procedure.

You should also take someone with you to drive you home after the biopsy since the doctor might give you sedatives to help you relax.

8. Normal and Abnormal Results: Bone Marrow Biopsy Results

The bone marrow biopsy will only take 20-30 minutes to perform but results from the laboratory may need a week or two.

Normal results means that the bone marrow contains the right amount of blood cells, fats and other connective tissues, no sign of infection or diseases, and the patient is safe from having cancer.

An abnormal result on the other hand means that your bone marrow is not working the way it should be, there may be too much or too little blood cell count, blood tissue is not normal, or cancer cells are present in your body.

9. Complications that may take place after bone marrow biopsy

After the examination, the patient may have mild sore on the area where the bone marrow was taken which usually last for 12-24 hours.

The most common complications are bleeding, discomfort on the spot where the biopsy was taken, allergic reaction to the anesthesia, fever, and infection.

Any severe type of complication is extremely rare to happen.

10. Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy

Bone marrow biopsy is a different procedure in comparison to bone marrow aspiration but the two can be both requested by the doctor in a blood examination at the same time. It is also called bone marrow exam.

The examination uses a specially designed bone marrow biopsy needle only intended for the biopsy procedure.

The difference between the two is that bone marrow biopsy uses a needle to take a sample of the solid portion of the bone marrow while bone marrow aspiration uses a needle to withdraw the liquid portion.

The aspiration is done first and followed by the biopsy. In addition, bone marrow biopsy allows for the evaluation of the entire blood cells unlike aspiration.

Bone Marrow Biopsy Video

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