Bone Marrow Biopsy

When I was first told I had Leukaemia, the doctors found it through a blood test, called a complete blood count. Leukaemia shows up on a complete blood count with massive abnormalities, my hemoglobin level was through the floor, my platelet count was just 6 when it should be between 150 and 450 and my white blood count was high. Although the blood test showed these abnormalities, to confirm the sub type of my Leukaemia I had to have a bone marrow biopsy. I’d heard of them before and knew they were painful, so I wasn’t looking forward to it!

I had the biopsy just 12 hours after being admitted to hospital. To begin with there were a lot of consent forms to sign, which covered the risk involved, such as bleeding, potential infection, pain, and that there it sometimes an inadequate sample collected. It was a junior doctor that performed the biopsy, in my experience they are the best, as they do them regularly, and have recently been trained in how to perform them. To start with they get you to lay on your side and raise your knees up to your chest, they then press onto the back of your pelvis to find the most raised part of your bone. Afterwards they inject some local anesthetic into the bone, which really does sting.

They then screw through the back of your hip bone and perform the bone marrow aspiration, which is where they take a blood sample directly from your bone marrow. At this point you usually feel a shooting pain down your leg, the severity of the pain tends to depend on who performs the biopsy. They then go in with another needle to extract a solid piece of bone marrow which involves a lot of pressure from the doctor and is very uncomfortable. The bone marrow and aspiration are then sent for testing, which in the UK is done in London, meaning there is usually around a 2 week wait for results. In emergencies the results can be received within 48 hours which is what happened with my first biopsy results, as a diagnosis was needed urgently, those results confirmed my diagnosis of APML.

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