Bone Marrow Aspiration

What is bone marrow aspiration, and how does it work?

Bone marrow aspiration is a medical procedure that provides valuable insights into a patient’s health and helps diagnose various medical conditions. This procedure is often performed together with a bone marrow biopsy, and they are collectively referred to as a bone marrow exam.

In this article, we will delve into the details of bone marrow aspiration, understanding its significance, the process, and its applications in the field of medicine.

If you’re interested in understanding how bone marrow tests can aid in your diagnosis, don’t hesitate to contact OrthoNeuro today. Our doctors are experts in treating various injuries and spine conditions. We are conveniently located throughout Columbus, OH.

What is Bone Marrow Aspiration?

The bone marrow is a vital part of the human body’s intricate blood cell production system. It comprises both a fluid and a solid portion.

In the context of bone marrow aspiration, a specialized needle is employed to withdraw a sample of the fluid, commonly referred to as bone marrow aspirate. These bone marrow cells are then analyzed.

What Is the Difference Between Aspiration and Biopsy?

In contrast, during a bone marrow biopsy, a needle is employed to extract a sample of the solid portion. These two procedures, aspiration and biopsy, are often performed together and collectively labeled as a bone marrow exam.

Why Might You Need a Bone Marrow Aspiration?

Bone marrow aspiration serves a range of crucial purposes in medical diagnosis and monitoring, including:

  • Evaluation and Diagnosis: Healthcare providers may order a bone marrow biopsy when they notice an abnormal number of blood cells in a blood sample. This procedure aids in the diagnosis of blood disorders, cancers, unexplained fevers, infections, and more.
  • Cancer Staging: Cancer staging involves assessing the extent to which cancer has progressed. A bone marrow biopsy can reveal if cancer has spread to the bone marrow or if a tumor within the marrow is growing.
  • Treatment Progress Monitoring: Regular bone marrow biopsies can be a part of cancer treatment plans. They help gauge the effectiveness of treatment by assessing whether the bone marrow is producing enough healthy blood cells post-treatment.
  • Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation: Bone marrow biopsies also determine the compatibility between a donor and a recipient for allogeneic stem cell transplants. In some cases, individuals with a deficiency in healthy blood cells may require new stem cells from a donor, and compatibility is crucial.

Conditions and Diseases Diagnosed with a Bone Marrow Biopsy

Bone marrow biopsy is instrumental in diagnosing various conditions and diseases, including:

  • Anemia: Characterized by a deficiency of red blood cells to transport oxygen in the body.
  • Aplastic Anemia: Occurs when the bone marrow cannot produce sufficient red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
  • Leukopenia and Leukocytosis: Conditions involving abnormally low or high white blood cell counts.
  • Thrombocytopenia and Thrombocytosis: Conditions involving abnormally low or high platelet counts.
  • Polycythemia Vera: A rare blood cancer that leads to excessive production of red blood cells.
  • Leukemia: A cancer of blood cells, especially white blood cells.
  • Lymphoma: A cancer of the lymphatic system that can affect blood cell counts.
  • Multiple Myeloma: A rare blood cancer that damages plasma cells, a type of white blood cell.
  • Secondary Cancers: Cancers originating elsewhere in the body that spread to the bone marrow.
  • Myelofibrosis: A disorder where fibrous scar tissue replaces bone marrow.
  • Myelodysplastic Syndrome: A bone marrow disorder characterized by improperly maturing stem cells.
  • Chromosomal Abnormalities: Bone marrow biopsy can detect chromosomal abnormalities and vitamin deficiencies that trigger the production of misshapen or oversized red blood cells.

The Bone Marrow Aspiration Procedure

The bone marrow biopsy procedure typically occurs in a healthcare provider’s office or a hospital setting and lasts approximately 30 minutes. Patients remain awake during the procedure, and local anesthesia is administered to ensure comfort. The steps generally include:

  1. Patient Preparation: Patients will change into a hospital gown, and a sedative may be offered to promote relaxation.
  2. Positioning: Depending on the chosen biopsy site, patients will lie on their side or abdomen. The most common site is the posterior iliac crest, located at the back of the hip bone.
  3. Local Anesthesia: The skin is cleaned and numbed with local anesthesia, ensuring minimal discomfort.
  4. Biopsy Needle Insertion: A specialized biopsy needle is inserted into the bone, and a small syringe is used to withdraw the bone marrow sample.
  5. Core Biopsy: In addition to the aspiration, a needle with a hollowed-out center captures a small piece of the sponge-like marrow tissue. This is referred to as a core biopsy, as it retrieves a cylindrical tissue sample.
  6. Sample Collection: Once the necessary samples are collected, the needles are removed, and pressure is applied to the skin to prevent bleeding. A bandage is then applied to the wound.
  7. Laboratory Analysis: The collected bone marrow samples are sent to a laboratory for thorough examination, which includes identifying any signs of disease.

Risks Associated with Bone Marrow Aspiration

Complications related to bone marrow aspiration are rare. Instances of heavy bleeding or infection at the biopsy site are infrequent. Typically, applying pressure effectively stops excess bleeding, and in case of infection, an antibiotic cream may be prescribed.

For those seeking further information or requiring a bone marrow test, do not hesitate to reach out to OrthoNeuro, conveniently located throughout Columbus, OH. The journey toward diagnosis and effective treatment often begins with a comprehensive understanding of bone marrow aspiration and biopsy—essential components of modern medical diagnostics.

Book Your Appointment Today

Contact OrthoNeuro to schedule your appointment and take the first step toward a comprehensive bone marrow examination that can provide crucial insights into your health and well-being. Our team of dedicated healthcare professionals is here to support your journey towards accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment. Contact us at one of our offices in the Columbus area today!

Medically reviewed by  Dustin Reynolds, M.D.

Spine Care Specialists


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