Bone marrow biopsy and bone marrow aspiration offer detailed information about the condition of your bone marrow and blood cells. Your doctor may order a bone marrow exam if blood tests, such as cell counts, are abnormal or don't provide enough information about a suspected problem. Examining bone marrow gives a detailed picture of the types, amount and condition of forming blood cells.

Your doctor may perform a bone marrow exam to:

  • Diagnose a disease or condition involving the bone marrow or blood cells
  • Determine the stage or progression of a disease
  • Check iron levels and metabolism
  • Monitor treatment of a disease

Bone marrow biopsy and aspiration may be used for many conditions. These include:

  • Anemia
  • Bone marrow disorders, such as myelodysplastic syndrome and myelofibrosis
  • Blood cell conditions in which too few or too many of certain types of blood cells are produced, such as leukopenia, leukocytosis, thrombocytopenia, thrombocytosis, pancytopenia and polycythemia
  • Cancers of the blood or bone marrow, including leukemias, lymphomas and multiple myeloma
  • Cancers that have spread from another area, such as breast, into the bone marrow
  • Hemochromatosis
  • Infections

A bone marrow biopsy and a bone marrow aspiration offer different, but complementary, information about your bone marrow cells. The two procedures are most often performed together. In some cases, you may need only an aspiration.

Dec. 13, 2011