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Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy

(757) 668-7000

Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy

Bone marrow is found in every bone of the body and is made of both spongy bone and liquid marrow. Blood cells are made in the bone marrow. A bone marrow test is done to see if the blood cells in the marrow are healthy or if any abnormal cells are being made.

For a bone marrow aspiration, a needle is placed in the bone and a small amount of the liquid marrow is drawn into a syringe. A bone marrow biopsy is done by using the needle to remove a small piece of the bone marrow. The bones most often tested are large bones, such as the hip, spine, lower leg, or sternum (breastbone).

The amount of bone marrow needed for testing is very small and removing it will not have any effect on how the rest of the bone marrow works.


When your child has a bone marrow test, he/she will be asked to lie on their stomach, side, or back on an exam bed or stretcher. A nurse will stand beside your child to monitor and help him/her stay in the correct position.

Your child’s bone marrow test will be done while he/she is sedated with medications given in an intravenous (IV) or central venous line. Because of this sedation, your child will not be able to eat or drink before the test. Your child will sleep during the test to decrease pain, anxiety, or memory of the test. The doctor will put on sterile gloves and clean the site with special soap. He/she will then place sterile paper towels over your child's back, leaving just a little bit of skin showing.


The doctor will numb the spot for the bone marrow test. This numbing medicine may sting. The doctor will then put a special needle through the numbed skin into your child's bone marrow, and pull the bone marrow into a syringe. Once enough of the bone marrow is pulled out, the needle will be removed.

The bone marrow that has been taken out is put on slides to be studied under a microscope. Some of the studies can be done in one day; others may take several days.

If a biopsy of the bone marrow is needed, the doctor will use a different needle to remove a small piece of the bone marrow from the numbed area. Once the needle is taken out, a pressure bandage will be put over the site. This bandage should stay in place for 8-12 hours before being removed. After the test, your child may be sleepy or unsteady on their feet for several hours. There is a small risk of bleeding under the skin or infection. He/she may have pain or nausea after the test. Please talk with your nurse or doctor about ways to manage discomfort.

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: 1/2018

(757) 668-7000