Test: Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy

Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy is used to diagnose various disorders of the blood, such as leukaemia and severe anaemias. In this procedure, two types of tissue sample are taken for examination: in a bone marrow aspiration, cells are withdrawn with a fine needle and syringe; in a bone marrow biopsy, a core of bone with marrow inside is taken with a large needle. The site may be tender for a few days afterwards. This procedure is usually carried out in hospital, often on an outpatient basis.

Taking a sample

Under local anaesthesia, a needle is inserted into the bone cavity at the top of the hipbone (iliac crest), and a sample is removed.

Site of sampling


Bone marrow biopsy sample

This magnified image of a bone marrow sample reveals large numbers of abnormal white blood cells. Chronic myeloid leukaemia is a possible cause of this type of blood cell abnormality.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

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