Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy

Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy

Bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy is a procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid (aspiration) and/or solid bone marrow tissue (called a core biopsy), usually from the back of the hip bones, to be examined for the number, size, and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.

This is typically an outpatient procedure.

A bone marrow biopsy is usually performed if a doctor suspects that a patient has a problem with blood cell production. A pathologist in the lab examines blood and bone marrow samples. By using a microscope with special lab techniques, the pathologist can evaluate the bone marrow for any of the following:

  • Unexplained anemia (a decrease in the number of red blood cells).
  • Abnormal numbers of blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets).
  • Bleeding or clotting disorders (such as hemophilia).
  • Iron deficiency.
  • Inherited blood disorders (such as thalassemia or sickle cell disease).
  • Leukemia (a cancer of the blood-forming tissue).
  • Cancers that have spread to the bone marrow.
  • Response to chemotherapy.

There may be other reasons for a doctor to recommend a bone marrow biopsy.

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