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Bone Marrow Biopsy

I’ve been wanting to share my experience with Bone Marrow Biopsy procedure since I underwent it last year (2010). Hope that this gives an overall picture on how the procedure works and why I went for the biopsy.


Image Source: Mayo Clinic

I underwent a Bone Marrow Biopsy early last year 2010 as part of a diagnosis to identify the root cause of my platelet escalation more than a million platelets per microliter of blood (normal person’s platelet count: between 150,000 to 400,000 platelets per microliter of blood). My hematologist calls me a “Millionaire”… a millionaire platelet patient.

In order to identify the issue for the sudden elevation of platelets, I would need to undergo a Bone Marrow Biopsy procedure. This is to rule out the common issue that may have caused the elevation like inflamation or infection in any parts of my body. However, I do not have any apparent infection or inflamation that could be determined as I looked healthy from the outside. The only thing that I was experiencing was a high fever due to high platelets.

Bone marrow is the flexible tissue found in the interior of bones. In humans, bone marrow in large bones produces new blood cells. On average, bone marrow constitutes 4% of the total body mass of humans; in adults weighing 65 kg (143 lbs), bone marrow accounts for approximately 2.6 kg (5.7 lbs). The bone marrow produces the cellular elements of the blood, including platelets, red blood cells and white blood cells.

The bone marrow biopsy sounded like a complex process, but I was assured that it is safe and its the best way to diagnose and eliminate a number of conditions, including leukemia, multiple myeloma, lymphoma, anemia, and pancytopenia. I was at the Medical Center in the morning, registered, checked-in and prepare myself for the biopsy. Right before noon, the biopsy was performed by my Hematologist. I was adminster with medication to relax myself prior to the procedure. It was then performed on the back of my hipbone, whereby I need to lie on my side to allow the insertion of the needle into my hip bone. I felt a sting and a slight burning sensation when the numbing medicine is applied. I felt pressure gaining on my hip as the needle is inserted into the bone. Then I experienced a sharp, stinging and sucking sensation as the marrow is removed. This feeling lasts for only a few moments before I passed out and slept due to the earlier medication that I took.

I woke up a few hours later. Overall, the procedure was a success. I could only feel a pressure at the back of my hip and was wrapped with a bandage around my waist. It was quite an experience and if performed properly you will not feel much pain and complication.

* Please ensure that you consult your Doctor or Hematologist if you need to undergo this procedure. Your Doctor or Hematologist will advice if this is necessary.

The following video (that I found on the web) gives an overview on how Bone Marrow biopsy procedure is performed generally and its similar to how it was performed on me.


Categories: General ET
  1. Janet Eastwood
    July 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Hi Bryan

    Glad your BMB went well. Unfortunately I did not have a great time with mine – in my hospital they give you a local at the site of the biopsy. Sedation is only available if asked for and unfortunately due to allergies I am difficult with sedation. Needless to say I made a lot of noise and cried a lot. Oh and apologised a lot afterwards to the poor nurses 🙂

    I am 51 and was diagnosed with ET in March 2011 after an emergency admittance and op last Nov for arterial clots in the leg and clots in lungs, brain, spleen etc etc which luckily they sorted with the Heperin.

    Over the last 3 months the platelets have sort of plateaued at over 600 so steadily increasing the HU, just started on 3 capsules (1500mg ) per day and bloods again in 4 weeks.

    • Bryan
      March 1, 2012 at 10:41 am

      Hi Janet,
      Hope things are doing well for you now. I share the same feeling that you’re going through then. I was in the same scenario with HU medication taken on a daily basis to control the level of platelets. I was later put on interferon on a weekly basis. When it was under control, I was able to remove myself from any medication for more than a year now.
      I guess the key is to be positive, stay healthy and control my stress level may have helped.
      Best wishes to you and take care.


  2. March 21, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Hi ,

    My name is charles, and I have been diagnosed with being Jak2 possitive ,
    most likely having ET., for a period of three years now. The only
    was elevated platelets, which have been brought under control with hydroxyurea
    500mg./daily. I am 66yrs., try to eat well, exercise daily, and take two baby asprins
    a day. Have you any advice, and is it possible I live to a normal age?

    Respectfully, Charles Wilhelmy

    • Bryan
      March 31, 2012 at 6:35 am

      Hi Charles,
      I too, try to live a healthy lifestyle. I have not been on any medication for almost 18 months now. I was on Interferon on a weekly basis and aspirins daily previously. I’m eating healthy and hit the gym/swimming at least twice a week. Stopped smoking since I was diagnosed and consume alcahol (wine/whiskey) ocassionaly at a moderate level. It works well for me so far.
      I will continue with what you have been doing right now. You’re doing great and on the right track. Also, try not to stress yourself. I know that its easier said than done especially when you are currently on medication. I was in your position too, 18 months ago.
      My Haematologist warned me that I could be put back on medication if my platelets increases again in the near future. There is no way to tell if we are fully cured as this is indeed a mysterious blood disorder that researchers are trying to find a cure.
      Do take care.


      • March 31, 2012 at 11:54 pm


        Thanks for your email, but I have a few questions. 1. Did you check JAK2 Possitive?
        2. Why are your platelets not rising , without using any medication, Why do you
        think this is ?

        Have you changed your eatting habits greatly ? I am so scared of taking hydroxyurea
        and would love to stop taking it.

        Respectfully, charles

  3. April 1, 2012 at 12:01 am

    …. Bryan sorry,

    I have one more question. How long were you on interferon?

    Thanks, charles

    • Bryan
      April 11, 2012 at 11:22 am

      Hi Charles,
      I did check if I’m JAK2 positive during my Bone marrow biopsy and it turned out to be negative. So far, my platelets have not risen. I perform blood count once every three months to ensure that my platelet levels are monitored constantly. I did asked my Hematologist several times now as to why my platelets did not rise since my last treatment. He mentioned that this is unknown and that the platelets may rise again, which is the reason why I have a quartertly check up. I believe that many Hematologists and Doctors in the world now are still trying to understand the blood disorder. It was also mentioned in Wikipedia that the pathologic basis or the origins for this disease is still unknown – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_thrombocytosis.
      I still wonder if my case is a misdiagnosed by the doctor. However, my Hematologist rule out my concerns and confirmed that I have this blood disorder that impacts only a minority of individuals.
      I have ever since try to live a healthy lifestyle and eat healthier food. I stop drinking alcohol but in a small fair amount occassionally. I exercise at least twice a week (swimming or walking or hit the gym).
      I was administered with interferon for about 6 weeks (once a week) until the platelet levels went down and I need to stop as it started to impact my liver. Initially, I was put on Hydroxyurea and aspirins to manage the high level of platelets but was advised to try interferon which is more of a protein based treatment rather than hydroxyurea – drug based treatment.
      I would suggest that you discuss with your doctor on a suitable treatment for you as different individuals will react differently with different treatments. Once last thing, release yourself from any stress and stay strong. All the best to you and take care. I hope sharing my experience could somehow be of use to you.


  4. September 20, 2012 at 12:39 am

    Uhhg. This was one of the worst medical procedures I’ve had. The 1st biopsy was a fail. The 2nd one was extremely painful. Ever break a dried out chicken bone or see the way one splinters apart? That is my perception of the feeling… except with nerve endings intertwined throughout that splintering chicken bone. Shooting, splintering, aching, sharp, deep, pain & pressure. That 2nd biopsy was also not fruitful. It was sone when I was 16 with strong, dense bones. The 3rd one I was sedated for. My mother said it took two guys to hold me down and stop me from reaching back for the needle. I don’t recall any of this of course, but at least they finally got their dang sample.

    I’m 30 now, have been living with ET for a bit over 14 years. I dread knowing that someday in the future I may need another BMB again. I will do everything in my power to not be awake for it. Granted, my youth at the time combined with anxiety and fear may have made it seem worse… but I certainly don’t trust it would be any better now. Sorry for the horror story! But that is kind of part of my reality.

    Otherwise I’m healthy & happy living medication free with platelets in the millions.

  5. Jon
    February 24, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Hi everyone, I just had my BMB two week ago, and for anyone about to have it I can only say for me it wasn’t too bad at all. The pain wasn’t anything to write home about, the only thing that made it even eventful was the anxiety and anticipation. That and trying to be still when getting poked, but if you don’t let yourself get worked up about it then you should be fine. Mind you, the doctor I had was very good at it I was told.

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