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Alternative Names Return to topIliac crest tap; Sternal tap
Definition Return to top
Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside bones that helps form blood cells. It is found in the hollow part of most bones. Bone marrow aspiration is the removal of a small amount of this tissue in liquid form for examination.
How the Test is Performed Return to top
The bone marrow will be removed from your pelvic or breast bone. Occasionally, another bone is selected.
The health care provider will clean the skin and apply a numbing medicine (local anesthesia) to the area and surface of the bone. Next, a special needle is inserted into the bone. The needle has a tube attached to it, which creates suction. A small sample of bone marrow fluid flows into the tube. The needle is removed.
A laboratory specialist looks at the bone marrow fluid under a microscope.
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
No special preparation is necessary for this test.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
You may feel a sting and slight burning sensation when the numbing medicine is applied. You may feel pressure as the needle is inserted into the bone, and a sharp sucking sensation as the marrow is removed. This feeling lasts for only a few moments.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
This test is used to diagnose leukemia, infections, some types of anemia, and other blood disorders. It may help determine if cancers have spread.
Normal Results Return to top
The marrow should contain blood-forming (hematopoietic) cells, fat cells, and connective tissues.
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
Abnormal results may be due to:
Risks Return to top
There may be some bleeding at the puncture site. More serious risks, such as serious bleeding or infection, are very rare.
References Return to top
Hoffman R, Benz EJ, Shattil SS, et al. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 4th ed. Orlando, Fl: Churchill Livingstone; 2005:2656-2657.
Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap.446.Update Date: 7/11/2008 Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and James R. Mason, MD, Oncologist, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Stem Cell Processing Lab, Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.