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Bone marrow aspiration (sometimes called bone marrow aspirate) and biopsy are tests performed to examine a patient’s bone marrow.
Bone marrow is a soft, spongy material that is in the center of most of the body’s bones. Bone marrow works like a blood cell factory. It makes blood-forming (hematopoietic) cells, the parents of all other blood cells. They mature into cells that eventually become:
In childhood cancer, bone marrow aspirations and biopsies may be performed to:
Many patients will have an aspiration and biopsy at the same time. Sometimes patients only have a bone marrow aspiration.
Bone marrow has a liquid portion and a more solid portion. The liquid portion is removed during an aspiration. The solid portion is removed during a biopsy.
Most children receive sedation medication and sleep during the procedure. When patients receive sedation, they must follow rules for eating and drinking before having the test. If patients do not follow the rules regarding food and drink, the procedure will have to be rescheduled.
If the child does not have a central line or port, he or she will receive sedation medicine through an IV.
A doctor, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant typically performs the procedure. A small sample of bone marrow is removed using a thin, hollow needle attached to a syringe.
The total time for both procedures is usually about 30 minutes.
Reviewed: June 2018