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Bone marrow biopsy

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2008

My mom was diagnosed with CLL in 2004.  Her numbers have been pretty good, so no treatment as of yet.  But her most recent blood test came back with elevated numbers, and since her last biopsy was 4 years ago, they want to do another.  She's really dreading it because she said it was horrible last time - wants to be given general anesthesia, but I don't think they do that.  Does anyone have advice on how to help her through this?  Are there any alternatives to coping with the painful procedure?

Posts: 8
Joined: Jun 2008

Well lynb I am 27 year old female that was recently dx with CML in Feburary 2008. I was taking hydrea which is an oral chemo when I first was dx for about 2 months. I am currently taking Gleevec 400 mg once a day and doing really well. I recently had a bmb done on feb 08 when first dx and when I got my results they got a dry top menaing the cells were to pack for the pathologist to read it. So my doc had it checked through the blood and it showed no evidence of leukemia cells in the blood. The first bmb i had I was medicated just enough to have a little relaxation. My second one the pathologist he usually does not premed his patitents but my doc called him and he made and exception for me. Actually i think when u do a bmb on your stomach it is much better than doing it on your side. When I did it on my my side it took me 2 weeks to heal. Lynb I guess it depends on your doc maybe try asking her oncologists to ask the path to make an exception because after all i hate bmb's. I hope Ihave ansewered some of your questions. Please feel free to ask any other ones if u have to. Take care and god bless.

Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2009

I had a BMB about a month ago. It was THE WORST thing I've ever had done to me and I've had a lot of things done to me since 2005 when I was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer, including surgery. Two weeks ago I was told I have MDS. I told my doctor I would never have a biopsy again without conscious sedation. You don't have to have general aneasthesia, you can have like twilight or conscious sedation. They usually use Versed or Diprivan, the same drugs they use for endoscopy and colonoscopys. The diprivan is great! You wake up without any side effects. I've had it and I didn't even know I had had any kind of aneasthesia. It seemed like I was out for only 5 minutes. I got up and drove home.

I told my doctor that the BMB was not a procedure that should be done in the office. He said everybody is different and some people experience more pain than others. I refuse to do it again without better pain control. It can be scheduled at the hospital in the outpatient procedures department.

Good luck and God bless!

buguhboo's picture
Posts: 5
Joined: Feb 2009

I was diaganosed with leukemia in Aug. 2008, I have since then had 5 BMB.. and I know what you're talking about.I was in the hospital for 3 of them. The first one, I must have had the diprivan, cause I felt like I went to sleep and it was over in like 5 min. The second time they gave me so much demerol I passed out for like 4 hours, the third i don't remember cause I was in the ICU, and don't remember 2 weeks of my life. Then came the 4th time in a doctors office.. I was so nervous! They gave me demerol to ease my nerves, it did a little. I don't remember that time being that painful. THEN.... came the 5th one.. now this one, she gave em.. demerol and a Adavant tablet, and during the proceedure more demerol, seems I have a higher tolerance now-a-days (immagine that! lol).. well, I'm use to the little pain the needle causes from the local... but then the doc said.. "I'm going to be pulling out the fluid, this is going to be a little painful"... slight under statement. It didn't even last a whole 2 seconds I don't think.... but it felt like a contraction, something after the birth of my son, I swore I didn't want to feel again... and right after I got over the shock.. there was the pain again.. uhhh.. but then it was over. Not too bad. Now I have to go back for my 6th and final one, hopefully, next week. But one thing I must say.. is that in the last 6 months, besides the emotional pain, that was the worst pain I felt in that whole time, 2 little seconds. Not too shabby.. Good luck to All!!

Posts: 2
Joined: Jun 2009

I've had 13 BMB's in the last 3 years since being diagnosed. The first one was the worst pain I'd ever felt in my life; no matter what the dr. used to "numb" the area. The 2nd one was almost as bad. Then the day before my 3rd BMB, my nurse, informed me that I could be put under conscious sedation. This information would've been greatly appreciated earlier. Since then, I've been out cold for the last 11 BMB's. Needless to say, but that nurse is on my Top 5 Favorite People List.

Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2010

I've had three so far, all of them hurt like hell! I did not get any pain meds, only a local which hurt as much as the actual biopsy.

Posts: 11
Joined: Apr 2009

Hello all,

I had 25 bone marrow aspirations from age 6 to 10. That was 20 to 24 years ago. I only had bone marrow aspirations (no bone marrow biopsies). But they really hurt an awful lot as well. I wasn't given any anesthesic or pain killer. I haven't had a bone marrow aspiration for 20 years now, but I know that if I was told I needed one, I would go mad with anxiety, because I'm not used to them anymore, and I'm sure I wouldn't cope with the pain so well as when I was a child and was used to having them. And I also have such a vivid memory of the pain they used to cause... That is what would terrify me (the memory of the pain).

Does anyone else agree with me that bone marrow aspirations hurt a lot as well? (although I know that bone marrow biopsies must hurt even more)


Oscar0914's picture
Posts: 32
Joined: Nov 2005

I have had about 6 BMB/BMA they all hurt but not unbearable. I usually am sore for about 3 days and then I feel fine. You can ask to be sedated or have a drug similar to what they use for colonoscopies where you don't remember the pain. You might just need a stronger local anesthetic when you are having them done, however they can't numb the bone so you do feel that for a quick second or two when they do it. Hope this helps.

Posts: 2
Joined: May 2010

Ask your physician about OnControl. It is a new device for performing bone marrow biopsies.

Full disclosure: I work for the company that makes it.

The procedure is faster and patients have less discomfort. Go to www.vidacare.com/oncontrol. It might seem strange to post this on this site but patients who do not like their bone marrow biopsies need to know about OnControl.

MRMIRACLE504's picture
Posts: 3
Joined: May 2010

The OnControl experience still looks painful.

I was diagnosed with MYELOFIBROSIS, a form of Leukemia in 2008. I've had 6 bone marrow biopsies. They were all done in my doctor's office with only a slight topical. They were all very painful but I believe the anxiety is even more excruciating!!! I don't do necessarily well after these procedures. I am out of commission for about 3-4 days afterwards, very sore and very stiff!

Posts: 2
Joined: May 2010

I do not envy anyone who has to have bone marrow biopsies. My good friend and my brother in law each had several and they also said the anticipation wasn't fun. The thing about OnControl is that from incision to core biopsy removal is on average 2 min 9 seconds, and there is no rocking of the needle, it is straight in and out. This is one reason there is less pain during and after the procedure. Certainly not pain-free but patients report much less pain. Good luck to you--it is easy for me to comment from the outside, and I pray for all those going through these.

Posts: 31
Joined: Feb 2010

that sounds like it may be the device most of my biopsies were done with. I had my first one at my local hospital...that was excruciating. But all the ones I've received subsequently (I've lost count) have been relatively minor.

Some have hardly hurt at all. A couple have hurt a bit during the extraction because my marrow was really cranking out new cells at the time, though. But none of them hurt so much that I was even inconvenienced more than just that afternoon.

Posts: 5
Joined: May 2010

Will have my 7th bone marrow biopsy in July 2010. Not looking forward to the procedure but it's necessary to confirm my AML leukemia is still in remission. Don't be in pain as my local anesthesia has been replaced with intravenous morphine. My peripheral neuropathy is permanent and the pain is constant, sometimes worse that other times. Take care everyone and remember...Don't worry about tomorrow because God is already there. Just another day in paradise.

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2011


Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2011

Dear SVanecek,

Have you gotten anywhere with your question? I need the same information.


Posts: 20
Joined: Aug 2011

My first one was NOT under sedation. It was horrible, but I made it through.

My second one was under sedation. I am not sure what I was given exactly, but was told it is the same stuff you get when you have a colonoscopy. You are awake, but remember NOTHING after.

Good Luck finding the answers you need. Tell your onc. that you want SOMETHING, ANYTHING more than a local.

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2011

Sorry for all of you with bad BMB experiences. I have not been diagnosed for sure yet but had a BMB this morning.
I must say that reading all of the posts here last week scared the crap out of me. My BMB was not bad at all, the nurse said I had very solid bone but still had no real pain. She used a local anesthetic. Hope this will help relieve someone's anxiety a little bit. Good luck to all..

Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2012

Where in the Phila., Pa area get one get a bone marrow biopsy under anew. My niece needs one but since she went thru it one will not do it again unless she is undernanesthesia. Thanks.

Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2012

Where in the Phila., Pa area get one get a bone marrow biopsy under anes. My niece needs one but since she went thru it one will not do it again unless she is under anesthesia. Thanks.

Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2012

I am not a cancer survivor, but I work in a hospital as a lab tech and have witnessed these procdures and I think it is OUTRAGEOUS that these are done mostly with just local anesthesia. I had a discussion with an oncologist the other day about it. I am on the national bone marrow registry and if I come up as a match and donate bone marrow, I will be given sedation. Why wouldn't someone who actually has cancer be given the same treatment? He had no good answer for me other than some lame response about "not really the right setting for anesthesia blah blah bah." We have sedation dentistry in this country for people who are nervous about getting their teeth cleaned for God's sake, and you're telling me you can't make sure a person who is already going to suffer enough with their cancer will be spared this pain? It makes me so angry, and if anyone in my family ever needs this procedure done they WILL have adequate anesthesia and my advice to all of you is to speak up and demand humane care. Healthcare is a big business now and hospitals are all competing for your business. Be the squeaky wheel! Demand better treatment! I know it's hard sometimes but don't let doctors intimidate you! Whew, OK I feel a little better. Praying for complete recovery for all of you!

Posts: 3
Joined: Jul 2012

Oh gods!! I can't think of anything worse on this earth (and I have had cancer, chemo and a bone marrow transplant), than the pain of a bone marrow biopsy. It is total torture, and I can not understand why they won't do something more humane in the way of pain killing. My heart goes out to all, and have nothing nice to say about any of it!!

Posts: 23
Joined: Jul 2012

Overland....I have had all of the things done to me that you have, and have had at least 5 bone marrow biopsies. I don't know who is doing them to you, but I have found them to be absolutely painless. My doctor is at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NY. I will be having another biopsy in September, which will mark a year since my transplant. I think nothing about having it done. In fact, I had two of my children and my wife watch the process on different occasions (they are adults!. They found it very interesting, as do I.

Posts: 1
Joined: Sep 2012

I was also treated at MSK in NYC. I was diagnosed with ALL when I was 3 and relapsed when I was 8. I have had over 150 bone marrow biopsies. Most of the time I was put under but during that time (1980's) the rules weren't as strict as they are now. My anesthesiologist was paid by how many jobs he could get done and I woke up over a dozen of them. I had pain each time fo about a week aftwerwards. I am now 30 and have constant pain from the sites. It feels like there is a needle in my back at both of the sites they used. I get migrains from the pain and find it hard to keep my pain under control. I didn't know if anyone out there knew anything that would help in this area. I have tried serveral pain medications but they all seem to only help for a certain time. Then I have the thought about what they do to my liver and kidney's. I tried the neuro stimulator and that has not seemed to help either. I find that each year gets worse. Does anyone out there know of anything? Ive tried physical therapy, local shots (not sure what the proper term is but ther purpose was to kill the nerves suounding the area) , and everyother shot. I'm afraid of taking too much pain medication because I have to drive and don't need anything to happen and the medication be exploited for a lawsuit as well as the long term side effects.
If anyone knows about a procedure or a better mdeication I would appreciate the help. Thank you.

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