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What is done during a bone marrow procedure?

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Quick Answer

During a bone marrow biopsy, the doctor inserts a needle or syringe into the patient's bone to take a marrow sample, according to MedlinePlus. The area in which the needle is inserted is first cleaned and numbed, and a bandage is affixed to the skin after the procedure.

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Full Answer

The patient may experience a stinging sensation when the needle is inserted. Although the patient may feel some discomfort when the marrow sample is taken, the procedure is relatively quick. The pain can last for up to a week after the biopsy, so pain medications may be prescribed, states Healthline. A biopsy can consist of two parts, namely the biopsy and the aspiration. The biopsy involves sampling of solid marrow, whereas aspiration involves sampling of liquid bone marrow.

Bone marrow biopsies are performed if blood tests indicate an abnormality or if the doctor needs to form a diagnosis, explains Mayo Clinic. The results from the procedure can also show iron levels or medical conditions associated with blood problems, such as leukopenia. Bone marrow biopsies should be performed on cancer patients to determine if the cancer has spread, notes Healthline. Although bone marrow biopsies are considered safe, the procedure presents some risks, such as too much bleeding or an allergic reaction to the local anesthesia. Risks depend on individual tolerances and health history.

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