Melbourne Blood Specialists Logo

Iron marrow biopsy

Bone marrow biopsy is an essential investigation recommended by your haematologist.

The procedure

It is a minor procedure, performed under local anaesthetic and light sedation by a Haematologist or the Haematology Registrar. You will need to fast from midnight on the night before the biopsy (unless sedation is contraindicated or not required).

Bone marrow is generally obtained from the pelvic bones and the procedure usually takes less than 15 minutes. It is a sterile procedure; the skin is first cleaned with antiseptic followed by injection of local anaesthetic. A small incision of 1-2mm is made through the skin to permit insertion of the bone marrow biopsy needle which is then inserted to remove some bone marrow and a piece of bone tissue. The specimens are then sent to pathology for analysis and the results may take up to two weeks to be finalized.

After the biopsy a sterile, waterproof dressing is applied over the site and should be kept in place for at least 24 hours. You may have a shower but no baths for the next 48 hours. You will be kept for observation for at least an hour after the biopsy - all in all, you can expect to be in hospital for half a day.

After the procedure

You are required to have someone take you home from hospital. Public transport is not recommended. It is illegal for you to operate any machinery or drive a vehicle for 24 hours following light sedation.

Side effects

Bone marrow biopsy is a very safe diagnostic procedure. Some of the common adverse events include, but are not limited to, pain at the site of injection, mild bruising and/or oozing or bleeding. Other complications, such as infection, are very rare. A simple pain killer such as paracetamol is usually sufficient for pain control. You should notify your doctor if there is severe pain or bloody discharge on the dressing.

Please note

It is important to let us know if you are taking Insulin or any other diabetic medications, Aspirin, Clopidogrel (Plavix), anti-inflammatories (e.g. Neurofen, Voltaren, Voltaren gel), blood thinners (e.g. Warfarin, Heparin, Clexane, Pradaxa, Xarelto). Do not cease any medications prior to the test unless you receive specific instructions from your Haematologist.