Patient Education


Bone Marrow Aspirate and Biopsy Procedure Info Sheet

What is a bone marrow aspirate and biopsy?

Small samples of bone marrow (aspirate) and inner core of bone (biopsy) are removed from a bone (usually the pelvis using a needle.

Why is this procedure done?

To look for disease such as cancer in the bone marrow and sometimes when your doctor is not sure why your blood cell values are abnormal

What will happen during the procedure?

You will lie still on your stomach or side.The upper part of your hip will be uncovered. The area will be cleaned with an antiseptic. A sterile “drape” will protect the site. A doctor and nurse will be present. A lab technician may be present to process the bone marrow specimen.

Is local freezing used?


How is the bone marrow aspirate procedure done?

A needle is inserted into the bone to withdraw the aspirate, which looks like blood.

How is the bone marrow biopsy procedure done?

After the bone aspirate, another needle is inserted into the bone and the physician will “wiggle” or “rotate” the needle. This will allow a small piece of bone to be removed (biopsy) when the needle is removed.

Will I have pain during the procedure?

You may feel some pressure and/or pain at the site while the doctor removes the marrow (aspirate) and bone sliver (biopsy). The pain usually lasts only a short time. To help relax during the procedure, we recommend taking deep breaths.

How long does the procedure take?

Less than 30 minutes.

What will happen after the needle is removed?

A sterile pad will be held firmly over the site. Then a small dressing will be taped in place. A blood test will also be done.

Contact you doctor or nurse at once if you have any of the following:

  • Unusual redness at the biopsy site.
  • Swelling at the biopsy site.
  • Excessive bleeding that does not stop after you apply pressure.

What can I do the day after my procedure?

You may remove the dressing if there has been no bleeding. If you notice bleeding, replace the dressing and apply pressure for at least 5 minutes.

If there is no bleeding, you may shower as usual. Avoid heavy physical activity for 24 hours. Do not lift heavy objects.

You may have some bruising at the biopsy site. You may also have mild soreness at the site. Your doctor or nurse will tell you what medicine to use for soreness.