Tests and procedures: Bone marrow

The most common problem associated with the below tests is pain. There is a small chance that your child may bleed under the skin or get an infection where the needle is placed.

 

Bone Marrow Aspirate (BMA)

A bone marrow aspirate is a test to see if cells in the bone marrow are healthy and to find out if cancers cells have spread to the bone marrow from another part of the body.

Bone marrow is the liquid spongy part of the bone (in the middle) where the blood cells are made. In the Oncology Unit most children have this test under general anaesthetic.

  • For this test, a needle is place in a bone, usually the hipbone and a small sample of bone marrow is collected into a syringe
  • The marrow is sent to the laboratory where it is tested for cancer or leukaemia cell
  • Your child may feel some pain when the needle is placed in the bone and may feel pressure when the syringe removes the bone marrow cells.

Bone marrow biopsy

While a bone marrow aspirate is done to look at the blood cells in the bone marrow, a bone marrow biopsy (also called a trephine) is done to study an actual piece of the bone 

  • A large needle is placed in a bone (usually the hip bone) and a small piece of bone is removed
  • The bone is sent to the laboratory for testing
  • Most children have this test under general anaesthetic
  • Your child may feel some pain when the needle is placed in the bone and may feel pressure or 'tugging' when the needle removes a small piece of bone.
Last updated Wednesday 26th June 2024