Bone Marrow

Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy

Bone marrow is a spongy tissue in longer bones. It produces all the cellular elements of our blood including white blood cells, red blood cells and the platelets. Since bone marrow is the source of blood cells, its examination is vital in the diagnosis and treatment of several types of blood cancers.

The bone marrow consists of Red and yellow marrow. Bone marrow aspiration is used to collect marrow tissue. After collection of the liquid, a bone marrow biopsy is conducted to extract the solid tissue. The samples are checked for the occurrence of abnormal cells as well as to determine the stage of the cancer, i.e. the extent to which it has spread.

The Method

Bone Marrow Aspiration: You will be asked to change into a hospital gown and given local anaesthesia. The doctor will insert a hollow needle into the bone (Anterior sternum or iliac bone) and draw some liquid bone marrow with a syringe attached to the needle. Though there will be no pain, the patient may feel momentary pressure on the area.

Bone Marrow Biopsy: The biopsy employs a bigger needle, which goes into the bone and the attached syringe extracts a small, cylinder-shaped sample of the solid tissue of the bone marrow. During this procedure too, you may experience some pressure in the area.

Usually, it takes between 30 and 40 minutes for both procedures. The site where the incision was made is bandaged and the patient is rested for half an hour to one hour while the bandage is monitored for bleeding. You can go home once you feel stronger.

Consult your medical expert for any concerns you may have regarding both the procedures. Ask him or her specific questions about potential restrictions for 24 hours after the event, including precautions on keeping the bandage dry.


When your doctor gives you instructions prior to the tests, inform him/her in case you have allergies, osteoporosis or bleeding disorders. Stop taking aspirin, blood thinning or anti-inflammatory medicines days before the tests if your doctor has asked you to. Arrange for a driver to take you home after the procedure; make sure to take complete rest for a day.