What Is the Process for a Bone Marrow Transplant?


The steps in the bone marrow transplant process include pretransplant exam and tests, cell collection, conditioning treatment, infusion and recovery, according to the American Cancer Society. The bone marrow transplant process often takes place in a hospital setting but may occur on an outpatient basis.

The exams and tests determine if a bone marrow transplant is safe and beneficial for the patient based on the specific health condition, notes Mayo Clinic. The evaluation process to determine eligibility often includes a physical exam, blood tests, imaging tests, biopsy and mental health consultations. The evaluation process also determines if the donor cells come from the patient or a different donor. The physician collects the cells either from the blood using a catheter or from the bone marrow using needles inserted in the pelvic bone.

The conditioning treatment prepares the body for the transplant by making room for the cells, destroying cancer cells or suppressing the immune system to reduce the risk of rejection, states the American Cancer Society. Chemotherapy and radiation treatment are often used as conditioning treatments and may take one or two weeks. The infusion process involves transferring the cells through an IV catheter. The patient stays awake during the infusion process.

Most patients leave the hospital after the transplant unless signs of allergic reactions occur, says Mayo Clinic. The patient returns daily to check the blood count and watch for signs of infection. Additional follow-up care varies based on the individual patient's needs.