Bone Marrow Biopsy Diagnosis
Bone marrow biopsies are used to test a sample of tissue and fluid inside the bone marrow for signs of blood cancer. Because changes in blood cells can often be detected before they can be detected in a blood test, bone marrow biopsies are also used as a method to test diseases affecting the bone marrow, such as leukemia.
Bone Marrow Biopsy Diagnosis
In addition to detecting blood cancer or bone marrow disease, biopsies can also help to identify other potentially serious health conditions, including:
- Find the source of severe anemia low platelet count (thrombocytopenia)
- Test chromosomes and identify abnormalities to determine potential risk levels for treatment
- Determine progress and response to treatment
Getting a Bone Marrow Biopsy in Los Angeles
Marrow tissue for biopsy is obtained through a procedure known as bone marrow aspiration. Samples are typically drawn from the hip bone with a needle, and patients may either receive local anesthesia or a mild sedative. A small portion of marrow cells and a small portion of bone also containing a sample of marrow cells are drawn for testing.
Once the samples have been obtained, they are examined under a microscope to detect changes and abnormalities in the chromosomal structure, as well as in other cells. Patients undergoing treatment for blood cancer also receive regular bone marrow tests to monitor the rate of progress of treatment, and whether white blood cell counts are starting to return to normal.
Samples taken from bone marrow tissue can also be used for additional procedures, including:
- fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)
- polymerase chain reaction
- flow cytometry
- karyotype testing
Bone marrow tests are an effective diagnostic and treatment tool for patients affected by cancer and other blood disorders. Biopsies of the bone marrow can also help to test for a range of other potentially serious health risks and illnesses, and as a monitoring tool to help the board-certified oncologists at the Cancer Center of Southern California determine how well cancer treatments are progressing, and whether modifications may need to be made to a particular course of treatment.
Other conditions and illnesses in addition to blood cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma that could potentially damage or compromise the bone marrow include:
- Sepsis (infection in the blood)
- Iron build-up due to hemochromatosis, a genetic disorder
- Myelodysplastic syndrome
- Anemia (low red blood cell count)
Bone marrow biopsies are generally very safe. Like all medical exams and procedures, they do carry a small risk and possibility of complications. Some of the rare complications associated with the test include:
- Excessive bleeding (more likely in patients with low platelet counts
- Infection (more likely in patients with weakened or compromised immune systems)
- Chronic discomfort and pain at the biopsy site
- Heart or lung issues resulting from sternum (breastbone) penetration during sternal aspiration procedure
Bone marrow biopsies are used when observing leukemia cell treatments. When performed by experienced, accredited professionals, the risks and complications associated with the procedure are exceedingly rare.
Next, read about Blood Cancer Los Angeles.