Bone Marrow Biopsy


What is bone marrow?

Bone marrow is found in the middle of our bones. Its job is to make new blood cells which enter the blood, travelling around the body.


What is a biopsy?

A biopsy involves taking a very small sample of tissue. In the case of a bone marrow biopsy a very small piece of bone marrow is taken from the inside of bone, along with a small amount of liquid from inside the bone. The sample is then looked at under the microscope.


Why is it performed?

In many blood diseases the bone marrow is affected and does not work properly. Looking at bone marrow down the microscope provides lots of information which helps to make the diagnosis. It can also provide information about the type and activity of disease present. Bone marrow biopsies are sometimes repeated to help confirm that treatment is working.


Where is it performed?

The easiest site for this to be performed is from the back of the hip bone above the buttocks.


Who is it performed by?

Bone marrow biopsies are performed by an experienced doctor.


How is it performed?

Patients lie on their side or front. First of all the skin is cleaned thoroughly. Then a local anaesthetic is injected, this stings a little at first but then soon numbs the area. The biopsy is then taken, patients do feel pushing and pulling but with the anaesthetic it is not painful. The procedure lasts 10 minutes from start to finish. A small dressing is applied afterwards and the area may feel bruised for a few days.


When will I get the results?

As the samples are looked at under the microscope it takes a few days for the results to come back. Sometime part of the sample is sent to London for special testing and the results from this may take 1-2 weeks.


Further information

Bone marrow biopsy at PubMed Health (US National library of medicine)



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Written by: Dr T Rider

Editor: Dr J Newman

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