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Bone marrow aspiration
Alternative namesIliac crest tap; Sternal tap
DefinitionThe bone marrow is the tissue that manufactures the blood cells and is in the hollow part of most bones. This test is done by suctioning some of the bone marrow for examination.
How the test is performed
The site of puncture will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution, and you will be given a local anesthetic at the area. The site may be the pelvic bone or the breastbone.
Occasionally, another bone is selected. Then, a thin aspirating needle (a needle with a syringe attached that will create a suction) is inserted, and a small sample of the bone marrow fluid is withdrawn. The fluid is placed on a slide for microscopic examination.
How to prepare for the test
No special preparation is necessary for this test.
Infants and children:
How the test will feelThere will be a prick and a slight burning sensation with the local anesthetic. Pressure may be felt as the needle is inserted into the bone. There is a sharp sucking sensation as the marrow is aspirated, which lasts for only a few moments.
Why the test is performedThis test is used to diagnose leukemia and other disorders that affect the blood. It may help determine if cancers have metastasized (spread). It is also helpful in diagnosing some types of anemia and infections.
Normal ValuesThe marrow should contain hematopoietic cells (blood forming), fat cells, and connective tissues.
What abnormal results mean
The examination of the bone marrow can help diagnose myelofibrosis , granulomas , lymphoma , cancer , anemias, causes of thrombocytopenia (low platelets), and thrombocytosis (high platelets). In addition to examination of the marrow smear, genetic studies can be performed. Different stains may help in identifying a type of cancer or anemia .
Additional conditions under which the test may be performed:
What the risks areThere may be some bleeding at the puncture site. More serious risks, such as serious bleeding or infection, are very rare.
Update Date: 5/8/2003Marcia S. Brose, M.D., Ph.D., Division of Hematology/Oncology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT