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Bone Marrow Harvesting


What is bone marrow harvesting?

Bone marrow harvesting is a procedure to remove bone marrow from your bones to be used for transplantation. Bone marrow is usually taken from the hip or sternum (breastbone). Your bone marrow may be put back inside of you, or donated to someone else.

What happens before bone marrow harvesting?

Your caregiver will examine you and ask you about your health history. You may need the following:

  • Tests: Your caregiver will do blood tests to check your blood type and blood count. Other blood tests check for diseases such as diabetes and HIV, and check your liver and kidney function. You may need to have an x-ray or electrocardiogram (ECG) to check your lungs and heart before you have the procedure. Tell your caregiver if you think you are pregnant. This is important because you may not be able to have the procedure if you are pregnant.
  • Blood donation: You may donate your own blood before your bone marrow is harvested. It will be stored for you in a blood bank. This allows you to have your own blood in case you need it. This is called an autologous blood transfusion.

What happens during bone marrow harvesting?

You will receive anesthesia medicine to keep you asleep during the procedure. Your caregiver will put a needle attached to a syringe into your hipbone or breastbone. The syringe helps remove the bone marrow from your bones. Your caregiver may need to move the needle to another part of your bone to get more marrow. He may turn you over to get marrow from the other side of your body. Bandages may be put on the sites where the needle is injected.

What happens to my bone marrow after it is harvested?

Your bone marrow may be transplanted into someone else right away. It also may be frozen so that you or someone else can use it later. If you have cancer, the bone marrow may be treated with radiation or chemotherapy to kill any cancer cells.

What are the risks of bone marrow harvesting?

  • You may need to have this procedure more than once. A needle may break inside of you during your procedure. You may have nausea or vomiting, or feel more tired than usual. Your blood pressure may get low and make you dizzy. You may have a rash, bruising, infection, or numbness near the injection sites. You may have trouble concentrating, and it may be hard for you to sleep. Your body may feel stiff, weak, or you may have trouble walking.
  • You may have severe pain in your hips, back, breastbone, and legs. You may lose too much blood and need a blood transfusion. Some of your blood vessels may become swollen. Air or bone tissue may block blood vessels in your heart, lungs, or brain. This could lead to a heart attack, breathing problems, or a stroke. This can be life-threatening. If you have cancer, it can get worse without bone marrow harvesting. It may be hard for your body to recover from other cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy.

When should I contact my caregiver?

Contact your caregiver if:

  • You have a fever, chills, or feel weak and achy.
  • You have nausea or vomiting.
  • Your skin near your procedure site is itchy, red, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have pain that does not go away, even with pain medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

When should I seek immediate care?

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have pain or swelling in your legs or have trouble walking.
  • You have a sudden cold sweat, chest pain, or trouble breathing.
  • You have weakness in an arm or leg.
  • You become confused, or have difficulty speaking.
  • You have dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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