Bone Marrow Aspiration

A bone marrow aspiration is a test to see if cells in the bone marrow are healthy. Bone marrow is the “factory” where blood cells are made. Bone marrow is found in the centre of bones and is made up of both spongy bone and liquid marrow.

For this test, a needle is placed in a bone (usually the hipbone) and a small amount of liquid bone marrow is pulled into a syringe (usually 1-3 teaspoons). It is sent to the laboratory to be tested for cancer cells.

Your child may feel some pain when the needle is placed in the bone, and may feel pressure when the syringe removes the bone marrow cells. Sometimes a child may get a skin infection at the entry site, but it is uncommon. More common is that a black and blue mark appears at the site where the needle was placed.

Warning: Contains Some Disturbing Images. What is the difference between a bone marrow aspirate and a bone marrow biopsy? Austin undergoes his 3rd bone marrow aspirate since being diagnosed 8/28/2008. This aspirate takes place in the middle of his consolidation period of Chemotherapy as he and his imagination keep him strong to battle apml leukemia.

Performing the Procedure

The patient commonly lies on his or her abdomen for this test. A nurse or technician will help position your child and support that position throughout the procedure.

  • Some form of sedation will generally be used to minimise pain and anxiety.
  • Lying still can be stressful for children. Rehearsing the position before the test can help your child feel in control and understand what he or she needs to do.
  • If your child is awake, distraction or other coping techniques will sometimes assist the child in getting through the procedure.

Potential Side Effects

Serious problems from a bone marrow aspiration are uncommon. Side effects may include:

  • Pain
  • Infection of test site; redness and feeling of warmth in the area
  • Bleeding under the skin where the needle was placed
  • Side effects of general anaesthetic; nausea, headache, sore throat, dizziness