Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy
Does this test have other names?
Bone marrow exam
What is this test?
This is a two-part test that looks at the blood cells in a sample of bone marrow,
the spongy tissue within certain bones. This test may help your healthcare provider
diagnose or monitor a blood disease or health condition affecting your marrow.
Your bone marrow has a liquid part and a solid part. Aspiration uses a needle to remove
a sample of the liquid part of bone marrow. Biopsy uses a larger needle to remove
a small amount of bone with its marrow.
Part of the job of bone marrow is to make blood cells. This test can find out how
well your bone marrow is working. This test is also done to find some types of cancer.
Why do I need this test?
You might have this test if your healthcare provider wants to find out the health
of your bone marrow or to check on how well your marrow is making blood cells.
You may have an aspiration to check for:
In some cases, bone marrow aspiration is used to confirm chromosome disorders in newborns.
You may have an aspiration followed by a biopsy if you could have:
Bacterial, fungal, or parasitic infection
Unexplained anemia, leucopenia, or thrombocytopenia
Metastatic cancer or many other diseases
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your healthcare provider may also order these tests:
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses
to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you
may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your healthcare
The lab will look at different aspects of your bone marrow to help find certain diseases
or conditions. These aspects include:
Type and number of blood cells
Any abnormalities in the size, shape, or look of cells
Level of iron in the bone marrow
Abnormal amount of young white blood cells, called blasts
Any chromosomal abnormalities
Depending on what is seen, your results may mean you have an infection, a blood disease,
leukemia, or cancer that has spread to the bone marrow from another site.
Your healthcare provider will take your results and combine this information with
information from your physical exam, health history, and other types of tests to make
If your results are negative, your provider may order other tests to diagnose your
How is this test done?
These tests require a sample of bone marrow. A number of sites on your body can be
used for marrow aspiration, but the hip bone is a common spot. You will likely lie
on your side or stomach on an exam table. Your healthcare provider will numb the area
of the test. You may feel a slight prick from the needle that the provider uses to
give the numbing agent.
Does this test pose any risks?
It's not possible to numb the bone, so you may feel slight pain during the procedure.
But you shouldn't feel any pain afterward. Risks from a bone marrow test are rare,
but you could have bleeding or an infection.
What might affect my test results?
Other factors aren't likely to affect your results.
How do I get ready for this test?
Tell your healthcare provider if you take aspirin or have any allergies. Also tell
your provider if you are pregnant, take any blood-thinner medicines, or have a history
of bleeding problems.
Be sure your provider knows about all other medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements
you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit
drugs you may use.