Bone Marrow Aspiration

Lawrence Shin, M.D.

Bone marrow aspiration is a procedure that involves taking a sample from the soft tissue inside your bones. Bone marrow is the spongy tissue found inside bones. It contains cells that produce white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets inside larger bones such as the spine.

Bone Marrow Aspiration

Bone marrow aspiration can be used to diagnose certain blood disorders such as anemia and blood cancer, as leukemia and infection. It is additionally used to assess whether or not cancers have responded to treatment or spread to other body systems.


What is Bone Marrow Aspiration?

Bone marrow aspiration is a procedure used to identify certain pathogens and infections in the body by removing and evaluating bone marrow. Normal results will contain tissue such as adipose (fat) and blood forming cells. Abnormal results may reflect blood cancers such as multiple myeloma, an abnormally low platelet count, bleeding disorders, bacterial/fungal infections, or cancer within the lymph nodes. It may also be used to gage the progress of cancers throughout the body, helping to establish a treatment plan.


How is Bone Marrow Aspiration Performed?

During this procedure, a needle containing a suction tube is inserted into the bone. Typically, the pelvic or breast bone is used, however in the case of infants or young children, in may be necessary to perform it on other parts of the body such as lower leg bone. The needle is used to suction bone marrow fluid for assessment. Prior to this procedure, the site will be cleaned, and a numbing medicine will be administered. You may experience a sharp pain and sensation of pressure during the suctioning, however this is brief and lasts only a few seconds. Afterwards, a bandage is applied to the insertion site.


How long will recovery take?

You may experience pain, soreness, or swelling, as well as bleeding and drainage at the aspiration site for several days. Ice, limited activity, and over the counter medications such as Tylenol may be helpful. In the event you received a sedative during the procedure, you will need someone to drive you home.


Are there any risks/complications?

Bleeding may occur at the insertion site. More severe complications such as infection and excessive bleeding are extremely uncommon.