scroll to top
Loading icon
Health Information Center
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.

Bone Marrow Biopsy

  • Amy Scholten, MPH
Publication Type:


Bone Marrow Biopsy


A bone marrow biopsy is the removal of a sample of bone marrow. The procedure is most often done on a pelvic or chest bone.

Bone Marrow Biopsy

Bone biopsy\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551694.jpgNULL14NULL2008-11-07256390Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Reasons for Procedure

A bone marrow biopsy may be done to:

  • Count the number of red and white blood cells, and platelets
  • Diagnose and stage different types of cancers
  • Diagnose and watch leukemias
  • Look for causes for iron level problems
  • Look for causes of spleen enlargement—splenomegaly
  • Test for other blood diseases that affect the bone marrow

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Infection
  • Excess bleeding

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes
  • Blood clotting problems

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The care team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before the procedure
  • Whether you need a ride to and from surgery


The doctor will give local anesthesia. It will numb the area. You may be given a light sedative. It will help you relax.

Description of Procedure

A small cut will be made over the biopsy site. A hollow needle will be inserted into the bone. The needle will be twisted and moved forward. This motion will allow a sample of bone marrow to enter the core of the needle. A fair amount of pressure may be used. The needle may need to be rocked. The needle will then be removed. The bone marrow sample will be inside the needle. Pressure will be applied to the puncture area. A bandage will be used to cover it.

Immediately After Procedure

Most people can go home after the procedure.

How Long Will It Take?

About 30 minutes.

Will It Hurt?

The injection of anesthesia may sting or burn. There may be some pressure and pain when the biopsy needle is rocked. After, there may be soreness for a few hours.

Post-procedure Care

At Home

You should be able to go back to your normal activities. If you had a sedative, do not drive until it wears off.

Problems to Look Out For

Call your doctor if you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling, pain, a lot of bleeding, or discharge from the biopsy site
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Cough, breathing problems, or chest pain
  • Joint pain, tiredness, stiffness, rash, or other problems

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.





  • Bone marrow biopsy. Harvard Medical School website. Available at: Accessed January 29, 2021.
  • Bone marrow biopsy and aspiration. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: .
  • Bone marrow biopsy. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:,P07679. Accessed January 29, 2021.
  • Tomasian A, Jennings JW. Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy: techniques and practice implications. Skeletal Radiol. 2022;51(1):81-88.
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.