Bone Marrow Biopsy : I'm very nervous at the... - CLL Support

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Bone Marrow Biopsy


I'm very nervous at the thought of having a BMB in 2 weeks time, I'm told it can be very painful . Anyone got any advice on what I could take, e.g. Painkillers etc? Eileen

31 Replies

Have you asked if you can be lightly sedated? I was and don't recall the procedure (but was certainly tender for a while afterwards). If you have it done by someone that does them regularly, you chances of a painful experience are very much minimised.


Thanks, I will ask and yes the dr has about a dozen BMB on the day.

Please don't take too much notice of all you read .

It isn't that bad at all ( well put it this way for me it wasn't )

I was very well taken care of .The nurse chatted to me whilst it was being done ,probably to take my mind off any discomfort I may feel

Just a little tender for a few days where the needle went in

.im sure that you will be fine and wonder what you were worried about .


in reply to PE1234

Thanks for your reassurance, I don't feel so worried now. My Dr is a CLL specialist also.


I am a fully qualified coward where pain is concerned. I always make that clear and ask for all the pain relief I can have.

The first time I was sedated but not asleep and I have no memories at all. The second time I didn't have the sedation but I had gas and air and it was equally effective. I also took some codeine painkillers about an hour before the procedure which helped with the soreness afterwards.

I can honestly say I didn't feel a thing both times! Good luck.

Hi Eileen,

I have had several BMB and as Others have said this is a simple procedure that trained medical staff carry out every day. Often the needle giving the local anaesthetic is the most painful part! Just relax - chat to the people and often it will be over before you notice it!

Regards, Marty

Hi Eileen,

I agree with Marty that the worst part is the injection for the local anesthetic. After that, I felt pressure but it was really not painful. For the next day or two the area was sore and I avoided sleeping on my back a couple of nights but that was the worst of it. Best of luck. In the hands of an experienced specialist you will do great!

My omcologist was very experienced in doing BMB and did it very quickly without pain. In fact, I was there for a follow up visit to a mid-treatment (FCR) CT scan and my hemoglobin was still low. My doctor recommended a BMB and I asked when he wanted to do it. He said 'Now' so I had little time to get scared and it was over very quickly. He just chatted about things going on when he did and had me count to 18. He told me it was over by the time I reached 10.

Best wishes for a pain free BMB and great results!!

in reply to rcknow

Thank you so much

I had my first one a few weeks ago. I did it without any sedation or other meds, simply because I forgot to ask ahead of time to have the doctor prescribe something. Next time I will definitely ask for something. I am a wimp and while I did not feel any real pain, I did feel pressure and I was so tense and scared that I could not relax and it made the whole thing harder for me. My doctor was very good and told me exactly what was going on the whole time; however, she also kept saying "now if it starts to hurt, let me know and we can do some more deadening". Every time she said that I would tense up more waiting for something to really hurt, which never happened. I will definitely ask for at least a Valium next time to take the edge off of my nerves.

in reply to BeckyLUSA

Thank you so much, I hope my dr is as nice as yours. I will definitely take a xanax!!

I have had two of them using a local. To me they are no big deal, I have had worse dental procedures. Only real pain I have had is when I forget and lean back on a counter. The sites hurt for a few days. I only used motrin.....

When I switched oncologist he sent me to get BMB immediately - no backing out. As it was a large teaching/research hospital procedure was done by a nurse who does BMBs. He was excellent - injected with mild sedative and painkiller - hardly felt anything during procedure or afterwards. Hopefully you will sail through too!

Worry was worse than the procedure. My oncologist talked me through the entire procedure and what she was doing. I felt a little pressure and nothing more. She is very experienced so that probably made the difference. Good luck, Sally (USA)

For my first BMB, I asked my oncologist's assistant to recommend the person for the biopsy whom she would use, and I requested him. When I showed up for the appointment, I told him about all the warnings I had received -- that it would be the most painful thing ever experienced. He laughed, and said it was likely that their procedures had been performed by people who do one or two a month, where I was his fifth biopsy that day. Except for the initial pin prick of the local anesthetic, I experienced no pain during the procedure. I did feel some pressure, like someone pushing on the bone, but no pain. I wonder if some people experience that pressure as pain, because they are expecting it. I did deep breathing throughout and felt fine. In fact, there was no discomfort even later in the day after the anesthetic had worn off. Same experience for my second and third biopsies.

May you have someone who is an artist with the needle for your biopsy, and find a way to approach it with a state of calm. You may find it no worse than a blood draw.

I've had two and found it very easy indeed. To be honest I suffer more pain with needles and cannulas than BMB. I'm due to have a third on in a few weeks time. The worry is much worse than the biopsy, honest.

I found my BMB to be fine. The doctor numbed the area several times and pushed on the skin until sure it would be pain free. You may hear the noise of a tool being used, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. The few seconds where a needle pulls out some liquid inside was the time I felt momentary twinge of pain. You may be sore a few days later but all in all, it honestly wasn't so bad. The numbing takes longer than the actual biopsy. The City of Hope doctor mentioned to me that these aren't used as frequently anymore. I hope it goes quick and easy.

I found it to be more pressure related pain like a dull sciatica. Brought a tear to my eye but was bearable. Over very quickly. Hope all goes well x

My BMB was performed by a very experienced doctor. It turns out that I have rather dense bones and he had to push hard to penetrate the bone, however it didn't hurt and I only felt a dull ache for a day or to afterwards.

Hi, I've had this done twice. It's uncomfortable but you just get through it. I didn't have much pain in the following days. Mine was done by a nurse practitioner just behind a screen with lots of other patients in the room . Didn't want to make to much noise and scare others waiting for their turn. In the end pain was not to bad. You have to laugh at the lack of privacy but in the end the camaraderie of others going through the same treatment is supportive.

Good luck hope your treatment goes well.

Hi Eileen,

I understand your concern, though it is a wee bit painful, it goes pretty quickly. I was a bit sore afterwards for just a couple of hours. So, no worries, you will be fine! My results merely confirmed the CLL diagnosis.

with kind regards, keep strong,



Eileen, everyone has a different threshold of pain. I have had two BMB, one by the old fashioned

needle method and one by the newer method electric drill. I had one hour notice for the former

and one week notice for the later. For me the pain was minimal with the needle method dulled

by lidocaine and would be my choice for my next one.My hematologist at Mt. Sinai Miami Beach

performed the procedure with the greatest of skill and compassion explaining everything along the


It is more uncomfortable than it is painful. What I wish I had known was how sore I would be after, I would have made arrangements to take a day or two off of work and to have some friends around. Be good to yourself and stay positive... xxx

At M D Anderson, I have requested sedation, and they give me an IV with propofol. I am awake & fine 15 minutes later with 2 band-aids, one on each side of the hip. They do bilateral BMBs. My MDA dr says BMB only needed if starting treatment or changing treatment.

Wishing you an easy BMB.


I had only a numbing agent at the site, no light sedation because I came alone and was driving myself home immediately afterward. We chatted the entire time, I only felt pressure, nothing else. It was over fast and I felt so silly for believing the dramatic television portrayals of BMB ordeals. I know no one who has had one so TV was my source of misinformation. I advise you to wear loose pants for the padding applied to the area following the procedure. I drove 4 hours home with no problem. The information they get from the tissue is priceless and well worth slight discomfort.

I'm happy to report that I also had no pain or discomfort beyond the initial needle poke for the local anesthetic - very similar to getting Novocaine for dental work. My oncologist was careful to check that the area was completely numb before doing the biopsy. I had no sensation at all when he extracted the marrow. I wasn't offered and didn't take any sedative before hand.

I'm glad to see many others here had a similar experience.

I hope your biopsy goes as well as mine did! (The anxiety beforehand was worse than the procedure itself.)

You can get sedation if you want. I have done it. It hurt but was ok.

I am going to have a Martini during my next one,


Really good to see this particular thread, as I'm due to go back to my oncologist on Tuesday for a follow up to some blood tests and a BMB was mentioned when I spoke to her 6 months ago and I have been fretting about how painful it will be as it does sound painful.

No official CLL diagnosis yet, but I've been experiencing fatigue and my WBC was around 18,000 the last time I had a blood work done (at my regular doctor's two months ago), so I strongly suspect thats what I will be hit with.

This is a late reply to this thread, but I thought I would share my recent experience at MD Anderson. As many have commented, the anxiety beforehand goes well beyond the actual discomfort of the experience. A couple of pokes of lidocaine and a few minutes later the procedure was done. Not painful at all. All that worry for nothing.

The most uncomfortable part was having the keep the site covered and dry for 48 hours. This meant no shower, only sponge baths.

I’ve had five bmbs. All were with only local numbing of the area. Based on my experience I would only lave the local numbing in the future. Only one has been very uncomfortable, the rest were just fine.

During the most recent one I was chatting to the nurse doing it when she said she’d finished. I hadn’t realised she’d started. I thought she was still prepping.

best, rob

Thanks Rob, my BMB went well at the time. I have moved on a lot since then. I failed to get into a very promising clinical trial here in IRE called CLL13, due to my kidney function. So I’m now about to start the standard treatment of BR. My lymph nodes are very swollen now and I am on my 4th antibiotic in a few weeks. I’m not looking forward to the chemo and all the side effects but feel I have no other option. Thanks again.


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