3. Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
This is done by inserting a hollow needle into the back of your hip bone (or, sometimes, the front of this bone or your breast bone) to remove a sample of marrow, the spongy material inside your bone. You may also have a bone marrow biopsy, which is performed in exactly the same way, but removes a small amount of bone, fluid and cells from inside the bone marrow.
The sample will be looked at in a lab. MPN bone marrow cells look different from normal cells, there may be too many or too few, and the bone marrow may have too much or too little iron. There might be signs of infection in the bone marrow, or it may have been replaced by fibrous or scar tissue.
Most people have had blood tests before, but the chances are a bone marrow test will be new to you. First, you’ll be given a local anesthetic to numb the area where the sample will be taken. Then the nurse will insert the hollow needle that will draw out the sample. You may hear a crunching sound when the needle goes into your bone, which can be a bit alarming, but is completely normal. You might also feel some pressure and perhaps pain. During an aspiration, you may notice a quick, shooting pain that goes down your leg as the sample is taken.
The procedure itself usually takes about 20 minutes. You might notice a bruise on the site and the area may feel stiff or sore for a few days.