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Bone Marrow and Biopsy

Bone marrow is found in every bone of the body. Blood cells are made in the bone marrow. A bone marrow test is done to see how the blood cells are being made or if any abnormal cells are being made. The bone marrow can be taken out by aspiration (drawing a little of it out through a needle) or by biopsy (taking out a small piece of it). The bones most often tested are the big bones, such as, the hip, spine, lower leg, or sternum (breastbone).

The amount of bone marrow needed for testing is only a very small part of the bone marrow in your child's body. The amount removed should not have any effect on how the rest of the bone marrow works.

Getting ready for the test

When your child has a bone marrow test, he/she will be asked to lie on their tummy, side, or back on an exam bed. A nurse will stand beside your child to help him/her hold still. Holding still will make the test get done faster and safer. If the hip bone is used, your child's underpants will be pulled down just a little so the doctor can find the right spot.

The doctor will put on sterile gloves and clean the site with special soap. This will feel cool and wet. The doctor will clean the site with three sponges. He/she will then place sterile paper towels over your child's back, leaving just a little bit of skin showing.

Your child’s bone marrow test will most likely be done while he/she is sedated with medications given in an intravenous (IV) or central venous line. Your child will sleep during the test to decrease pain, anxiety, or memory of the test. Your child can not eat or drink before the test. Your child’s doctor will tell you when your child needs to stop eating and drinking. The doctor giving your child the sedation will stay with your child for the whole test. It will be a short time before your child can eat or drink again. Your child needs to rest for 24 hours after the test. He/she may be a little sleepy for several hours, have some nausea, and be unsteady on his/her feet.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 4/2008