Why is Bone Marrow Test Done, How is it Done, its Type, Risks, Complication

A Bone Marrow Test can detect the well-being of your bone marrow. Being a rare test, it is obvious that you might not be familiar with the bone marrow test; and thus you need to understand what actually this test is and how it is done. So, here in this article we will talk about the test, how it is done, its type, risks and complications.

Hope this would be the article you would love to read.

Why Is Bone Marrow Test Done?

Bone Marrow Test: An Overview

Bone marrow is a sponge-like tissue found inside the bone. It includes stem cells that advances into three forms of blood cells, which the body requires for performing various functions. The three forms of cells include the Platelets that prevent bleeding, WBCs or white blood cells that fight infection and RBCs or Red blood cells that carry oxygen in the body.

A bone marrow test or an analysis of the bone marrow helps in understanding the health status of the bone marrow in the body. The primary reason behind performing this test is to check that whether the bone marrow is releasing a normal amount of blood cells or not. The bone marrow analysis helps to find out blood disorders and also to detect cancer or any other severe infection.

Why Is Bone Marrow Test Done?

The bone marrow test involves two steps; namely Aspiration and Biopsy. There are several reasons for getting this test done. Some of the major reasons include: For detecting blood disorders such as certain anaemias, leukemia, or problems that affect the bone marrow, like Polycythemia vera or multiple myeloma. Apart from this, the test also helps in analyzing the problems with White blood cells, Red blood cells, or platelets in people who face critical disorders like thrombocytopenia, anemia, and abnormal count of WBCs or white blood cells. Moreover, the bone marrow test also helps in detecting cancer, such as Hodgkin lymphoma or other disorders, which attacks the bone marrow. The test also supports in detecting the best possible treatments for bone marrow issues.

Types of Bone Marrow Test

There are two primary types of bone marrow test. They are; Bone marrow aspiration and bone marrow trephine biopsy.

The bone marrow aspiration test removes only a small portion of the liquid fluid from the bone. Here, the nurse of the doctor suck the liquid fluid from the bone into a syringe. During this process, a small amount of liquids is removed from the bone using a needle. This fluid is then tested to check for problems in the bone marrow. It aids in exploring the problems in chromosomes.

However, in case of bone marrow biopsy, a small portion of the bone and a small amount of liquid fluid and cells from the bone is removed. A bone marrow trephine means that the nurse or the doctor removes a 1 or 2 cm core of bone marrow in once piece.

Bone marrow tests are performed by specialists like hematologists, internist, medical oncologist or pathologist. Usually, you have to go through both of these types of bone marrow test.

How Is Bone Marrow Test Done?

A Bone Marrow test that involves bone marrow biopsy and bone marrow aspiration is performed in your doctor’s office, clinic or hospital. Usually doctors who are specialized in blood disorders or cancer, such as oncologists or hematologists, performs this test. The bone marrow test usually takes about 10 minutes. However, extra time is required for preparation and post-procedure care, especially in case you receive IV or intravenous sedation. The total time for the procedure is about 30 minutes.

Before The Bone Marrow Test: Preparation For The Test

At first, your blood pressure and the heart rate is checked, and you then receive some form of anesthesia to keep you comfortable. Most people would require only local anesthesia, as bone marrow aspiration, in particular, can cause brief, yet sharp pain. You will be fully awake during the test procedure. However, the aspiration and biopsy site will be numbed so as to reduce the pain.

You may be given an IV medication, if you feel anxious about the pain. With this, you are either completely or partially sedated during the bone marrow test.

The area where your doctor will insert the biopsy needle, is marked and cleaned. The Aspirate or the bone marrow fluid and Biopsy or the tissue samples are usually collected from the top ridge of the back of a hipbone. Sometimes, the front of the hip may also be used.

The Procedure: How is it Done?

Bone Marrow Aspiration: Usually Bone marrow aspiration is done first. The doctor makes a small incision and then inserts a hollow needle via the bone and into the bone marrow. The doctor withdraws a sample of the liquid portion of the bone marrow, using a syringe attached to the needle. You may feel a brief and sharp pain with this. The aspiration takes only a few minutes. Several samples may be taken.

Bone marrow Biopsy: Your doctor uses a larger needle for withdrawing a sample of solid bone marrow tissue. The biopsy needle is specially designed for connecting a core (Cylindrical sample) of the bone marrow.

After The Bone Marrow Test: The After- Care

There is a need of some aftercare treatments of the bone marrow test. Pressure will be applied to the area where the needle was inserted in order to stop the bleeding.
In case you had received local anesthesia, you will be asked to lie on your back for about 15 minutes and apply pressure to the biopsy site. You can then leave and continue your normal activity as soon as you feel up to it. However, in case you had IV sedation then you will be taken to a recovery area. You need to take it easy. For 24 hours.

Kindly note that you may feel some tenderness for about a week or more after the bone marrow test. Be sure to ask your doctor about taking a pain reliever for this.

Site Care:

Wear the bandage and keep it dry for at least 24 hours. Make sure not to shower, bathe or swim at least for 24 hours. Make sure to contact your doctor if you have a persistent fever, bleeding that soaks via the bandage or doesn’t stop with direct pressure, worsening pain or discomfort, swelling at the procedure sit or if there is an increasing redness or drainage at the procedure site.

Results Of The Bone Marrow Test:

The bone marrow samples are sent to a laboratory and your doctor gives you the results within a few days. However, sometimes it may take longer.

Risks of Bone Marrow Test:

There are some possibilities that you might face some of the risks with the bone marrow test. Below are some of them.

Bleeding: It is common to have a small amount of bleeding from the area where the needle went in. In case you notice any heavy bleeding, apply pressure to that area. However, contact your doctor if the bleeding doesn’t stop.

Pain: Some individuals feel uncomfortable and have pain after the local anaesthetic has worn off. You will be informed about what painkillers you need to take. In case you have severe pain or if it is getting worse, then you should contact your doctor.

Infection: There is a small risk of getting infections in your wound after the bone marrow test. Make sure to talk with your doctor if you have a temperature or if the area becomes red and sore.

Tingling In Leg: You may also feel some tingling in your leg, which wears off with time.

Injury Of Lungs Or Heart: The bone marrow test may also result to an injury of your lungs or heart, or of any major nerve from which the sample is collected. Although, it is a rare complication, still it is required to stay attentive both; during and after the test.

Complications of Bone Marrow Test:

Though there are some risks with the bone marrow test, the complications of the test are very rare. Some of the complications of the bone marrow test include the following

  • Allergic reactions to anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Persistent pain at the site where the biopsy was done.

It is always essential for you to talk to your doctor in case of any complication caused due to the bone marrow test


Now, we are known to the bone marrow test, the procedure and also about the risk and complications. It is always essential to talk with your healthcare provider about the procedure, risks and complications along with the aftercare methods of bone marrow test and take best care of self.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:January 28, 2019

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