Bone Marrow Biopsies for Myelofibrosis
- Bone marrow biopsies are one of the tests used to confirm a diagnosis of myelofibrosis, a rare type of bone marrow cancer.
- During the biopsy, a needle is inserted into center of the bone in order to extract marrow for testing.
- People may experience some pain during the procedure but mild sedatives, pain medication, and a local anesthetic, as well as anxiety medication, can be given to help.
Typically, pain is only felt during the procedure and patients do not have side effects afterward.
- In some cases, patients may opt to be fully or partially sedated for the biopsy.
Bone marrow biopsies are helpful to diagnose the disease — which is part of a group of disorders known as myeloproliferative neoplasms — because these samples taken from the marrow can be studied in a lab and used to confirm a myelofibrosis diagnosis.Read More
What Happens During a Bone Marrow Biopsy?During the biopsy, bone marrow will be extracted through a needle so doctors can run tests on it in a lab.
“It will require inserting a needle through the thick part of the bone in order to go to the center of the bone and extract some of the bone marrow for examination,” Dr. Abdulraheem Yacoub, a hematologist at the University of Kansas Medical Center, tells SurvivorNet.
Is a Bone Marrow Biopsy Painful?
The bone marrow biopsy process may be painful, Dr. Yacoub says. However, the procedure can be performed under local anesthesia, with some anti-anxiety medications to relax you. At that time, you may have a twinge of pain, but it is usually manageable due to the anesthetic lidocaine given before the procedure starts.
“Most of the time we perform this in the clinic with mild sedation and some pain medicines, as well as local anesthetic,” Dr. Yacoub says. “With the combination of all of this, most patients can tolerate that with some sensation of pressure rather than pain.”
In certain cases, patients may opt to be partially or completely sedated. It’s important to discuss these options with your doctor to ensure you feel as comfortable as possible during the bone marrow biopsy.
The good news is that patients don’t typically have issues with pain or other side effects after the procedure.
Possible Complications of a Bone Marrow Biopsy
With any procedure, there is the potential for complications — and bone marrow biopsies are no different.
“Of course, some procedures have complications such as bleeding or other issues that could occur,” Dr. Yacoub says.
If you experience any of the following symptoms in the days after a biopsy, contact your healthcare provider immediately:
- Worsening pain or discomfort
- Swelling at procedure site
- Increasing redness or drainage at procedure site
“Patients should contact their physicians immediately if they are having pain after the procedure — [since] it’s not an expectation,” Dr. Yacoub adds.
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