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Bone Marrow Biopsy and Aspirate

Your doctor has ordered a bone marrow biopsy (BYE-op-see) and aspirate (ASS-per-it) for you.
This test removes a small sliver of bone and its inner core, which is called bone marrow. A doctor can then get a close look at it under a microscope. The test may be done in your doctor’s office, an outpatient center, or a hospital room.

Bone marrow biopsy and aspirate may be done to learn how far your disease has advanced. Finding out the extent of a disease is called “staging.” Several different tests help doctors learn the stage of a person’s disease.

For some types of cancer, bone marrow biopsy and aspirate detects if the cancer is in the patient’s bone marrow. For blood disorders, this test may show if a patient is in remission. After a bone marrow transplant, this test shows if the transplant is working.

How do I prepare for the test?

No special preparation is needed.

What will happen before the test?

You will be asked to sign a consent form.

What will happen during the test?

You will lie on your stomach or side. You must lie still during the test. The upper part of your hip will be uncovered. The area will be cleaned with an antiseptic. A sterile “drape” will protect this site. A local anesthetic (ANes-THET-ik) will be used. You will get a shot to numb your skin and the bone covering at the site.

After the area is numb, the doctor will insert a needle and draw out the bone marrow. You may feel some pressure or pain at the site while the doctor removes the marrow and bone sliver. The pain usually lasts only a short time. To help yourself relax, take a deep breath. The test usually takes about 15 to 30 minutes.

What will happen after the test?

The needle will be removed. For several minutes, a sterile pad will be held firmly over the site. Then a small dressing will be taped in place. You will be monitored for 30 minutes to 1 hour for bleeding problems and pain control.

What should I do after the test?

The next day, you may remove the dressing if there has been no bleeding. If you notice bleeding, replace the dressing and apply pressure for at least 5 minutes.

If there is no bleeding, you may then shower as usual. Avoid heavy physical activity for 24 hours. Do not lift heavy objects.

You may have some bruising at the biopsy site. You may also have mild soreness at the site. Your doctor or nurse will tell you what medicine to use for soreness.

What should I report to my doctor?

Contact your doctor or nurse at once if you have any of the following:

  • Unusual redness at the biopsy site
  • Swelling at the biopsy site
  • Excessive bleeding that does not stop after you apply pressure

When and how do I get my test results?

Test results will be sent to your doctor within a few days. Your doctor will discuss the results with you. Check with your doctor or testing center about when to follow up regarding your results.

  • Your test is scheduled for _______________________ (place) on _______________(date).
  • Report to _______________________________ at _________________________ (time).
  • Someone will call you to confirm the time to report for your test.

Other instructions:



Reviewed July 2011