Bone Marrow Biopsy

A bone marrow biopsy is especially important for accurate diagnosis of AML because AML is defined by greater than 30% blasts in the bone marrow, whereas a normal blast count is less than 5%. In a bone marrow biopsy a sample of bone marrow is taken from the hip bone or another large bone. A bone marrow biopsy measures the blast count.

In order to take a sample of bone marrow a health care provider will clean the skin and apply a local anesthesia to the area and surface of the bone. The next step is removing a liquid sample of marrow by aspiration. A special needle is inserted into the bone. The needle has a tube attached to it that creates the suction. During the biopsy, a cylindrical piece of bone and marrow is removed by suctioning the fluid through the tube. During the aspiration you may feel pressure and then a sharp sucking sensation as the marrow is removed. This only lasts a few moments and then the needle will be removed.

The samples from the bone marrow biopsy are then sent to the laboratory for examination. It's common to have this procedure multiple times during the treatment phase to determine if your leukemia is responding to treatment.