Failed bone marrow biopsy: Just reading other... - CLL Support

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Failed bone marrow biopsy

Fantasia1 profile image

Just reading other posts re failed BMBs I had one yesterday and the Dr had a lot of trouble as he said my bones are so hard that he could not penetrate through the bone to the marrow so resorted to bone biopsy and was hoping he got enough of that to do the test. This took a whole hour and without sedation so today I am in so much pain and can only lie on my right side as other positions are too painful. Is this very unusual or am I being a sook?

10 Replies

That sounds really painful and I hope you are managing to be comfortable. I had a similar experience, first nurse took 45 minutes, second nurse 10 minutes, which seems to be more the norm. The explanation given for the "difficulty", was it was because my bones were "soft". Personally, I think it was more down to the experience of the nurse doing the procedure, as I have had numerous bone marrow biopsies before with no issues and only minor discomfort. The result of this episode is, I dread the procedure and I now have valium before bone marrow tests, along with gas and air during the biopsy.

I have to agree that the experience can be down to the experience (or lack of) of the practitioner carrying out the procedure. My first BMB left me severely traumatised (especially as it was also only a week after I had received the dx which had left me deeply shocked). The pain level during the second half of the procedure was so excrutiating it felt like I was being tortured and all I could do was scream. The local anaesthesia given didn't seem to even touch it!

I've now just had my second BMB carried out. Unfortunately because of the trauma of the first one the stress and dread left me feeling physically sick for several days before and afterwards. However this time I had requested a different person to carry it out along with gas and air and the experience felt much more humane with far less pain, mostly discomfort towards the end of the procedure. Obviously more anaesthesia was given with an interval of some minutes to give it some time to work, which was not the case the first time round which makes me think that the Registrar wasn't very experienced. I guess I was just unlucky and have been told that it shouldn't be quite that painful. However that evening after the anaesthesia started wearing off I experienced quite severe pain on moving especially when I tried to stand or walk.

I can relate to your experience and know only to well how traumatic a bad experience can be and leaves a severe long term impact. I can only hope when it comes to having another BMB I won't have such a severe stress reaction!

cllady01 profile image

Sorry to hear of your experience. It isn't "usual", but it happens. I asked for sedation because you never know. I hope you have some pain meds, at least tylenol to help you till the pain subsides.

Sam-1 profile image
Sam-1 in reply to cllady01

I have bm biopsy done in hospital outpatient surgery under brief anasthesia w/o problem there was mild pain for several days. This Bx is important to how much tumor cells which are lymphoma or cll cells in the marrow. At least sedation is needed , that too help the doctor who is performing the procedure, wish you well.

Oh goodness I am so sorry for you, it does sound unusual. I have had two BMBs and was lucky enough to have the same consultant do it each time. I got away with it relatively pain free without sedation. No after effects either.

I hope the sample they did get will give the results you need. Holly

lankisterguy profile image

I've discussed this with the team at Weill Cornell NY Presbyterian and the consensus is to get someone that does several BMBs each week. Often that will be a NP or PA and NOT a top level CLL expert doctor. The top doctors don't get enough practice and then get "rusty" at doing the procedure quickly and confidently with the manual tools.

Since I am a battery powered drill tool guy I was pleased to see this option approved by the FDA:

Using a Powered Bone Marrow Biopsy System Results in Shorter Procedures, Causes Less Residual Pain to Adult Patients, and Yields Larger Specimens


So very sorry. I have never had one, and hope I never have to . I had read that in the US the fish test is pretty much replacing it. If I do ever have to have one, I want full blown anesthesia 😳

The same thing happened to my husband. She said his bones were too hard. Next time, we will get someone else to do the procedure who does them often. It was his oncology specialist. The results came back inconclusive - not enough to test. Lots of pain and expense for nothing.

I don't know how common it is, but I had two - one before and one after treatment - both done by the very experienced consultant, with no anaesthetic. He had no problem whatsoever, and neither did I. My guess, for what it's worth, is that it's down to the experience and competence of the person doing the biopsy. Do lots, you get good at it and confident. Do only a few - you're tentative and it doesn't work out so well for the patient.

Hi Fantasia

' a sook ' ... a person lacking spirit or self-confidence ...

... an hour without sedation ? You are definately not a sook.

... and I note that you doc didn't blame himself, his technic or the cheap instruments he uses .... just to keep to his budget.

I hope the pain eases soon.

I award you todays you got to go Oww! award.


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