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What is bone marrow aspirate?

Bone marrow is a soft spongy tissue present inside bones that form blood cells. Bone marrow aspirate involves a comfortable and less invasive procedure. It is a 30-40-minute procedure where the skin and tissues are anesthetized and marrow blood is withdrawn using a needle. The blood from bone marrow contains stem cells. This procedure can be done at the same time as a bone marrow biopsy.

Why is it done?

Bone marrow aspiration provides complete information about the condition of your bone marrow and blood cells. Your doctor may suggest a bone marrow exam if your blood tests do not provide required information about a suspected problem or your blood tests are abnormal.

Doctors usually perform bone marrow aspirate to:

  • Investigate a fever of unknown source
  • Monitor the treatment of disease
  • Check metabolism and iron levels
  • Determine the level or progression of a disease
  • Diagnose a condition or disease involving the bone marrow or blood cells

Who performs a bone marrow aspirate?

A bone marrow aspiration is usually performed by a specially trained technician, oncologist, hematologist or pathologist.

How is it performed?

Bone marrow aspiration is a short procedure. The doctor makes a small incision and inserts a hollow needle through the bone into the bone marrow. The doctor withdraws a sample of the liquid part of the bone marrow using a syringe attached to the needle. During this, you may feel a little sharp pain. Your doctor may take various samples. Then the healthcare team checks the samples to make sure the sample is sufficient. In rare cases when the fluid cannot be withdrawn doctors move the needle for another draw.

What are the common sites for bone marrow aspirate?

There are 4 common sites for bone marrow aspiration:

  • Rear upper pelvic bone: It is the most preferred site as no major organs or blood vessels are located nearby.
  • Front upper pelvic
  • Central, flat bone situated in front of the chest: It is rarely used because this site involved higher risk as it is situated near the heart and major blood vessels.
  • Larger shin bone: This location is typically used in infants