All You Wanted To Know About A Bone Marrow Test

All You Wanted To Know About A Bone Marrow Test

You may know or someone might have mentioned that the Bone Marrow Test is often done when there is a blood problem.

More likely you have fear or anxiety when the doctor says its needed in a particular patient.

So what exactly is this test? What is done for ? How is it done?

Bone marrow
is the spongy blood filled cavity inside of our bones, that is virtually the blood cell factory of our body.

Here blood cells of all types, the red, white and platelets are produced.

The bone marrow though red in colour and resembling blood has specialized cells called stem cells and precursor cells which are vital to form mature cells.

Bone marrow is a honeycomb of cells that stick to the edges of bony network.

In the adult bone marrow is most abundant in the flat bones and vertebral bones.

To take a sample of bone marrow we can utilize the chest bone or sternum, pelvic bone or ilium or the leg bone or tibia.
For ease of the procedure and to make it a less anxious for the patient, we usually prefer the back of the buttock from a place called the iliac crest.
This site is easy to locate and the bone surface is easily accessible.


We use steel needles for the bone marrow test.
Local anaethetic is injected into the surrounding skin and soft tissue to numb the area.
This is like what a dentist does before a tooth procedure or tooth extraction.

Once the injection takes effect the needle is inserted into the bone and a liquid sample of the marrow or a solid bit of bone called the trephine biopsy is taken.

Various tests can be done on the bone marrow samples taken depending upon the patients condition.

The smear is looked at under the microscope, samples sent for chromosomal analysis or the bit of bone is processed in the histopathology lab for further study.

The clinical condition of the patient and what the haematologist is suspecting will decide on the need for specialized tests necessary.


I must reassure patients that pain during the bone marrow test is minimal and not to be worried about.

If you have additional concerns the procedure can also be done under sedation.

For children we advise general or IV anaesthesia in a hospital setting.

Many patients think the only reason for doing a bone marrow is when we suspect blood cancer.
Not really, no need to panic.

Cancer is one of the many conditions a bone marrow does pick up, but we do it for many other reasons too.

If you are worried always ask questions and clarify your doubts.

Related articles

Bone marrow is the spongy insides of bone which contains marrow cells. These are the precursor cells which form all types of blood cells in our bodies.

Blood is something that medical technology hasn’t been able to manufacture. Blood has to come from healthy people and blood banks need this precious currency all the time.