Bone Marrow Biopsy insights please: Hi friends, I... - MPN Voice

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Bone Marrow Biopsy insights please


Hi friends,

I’m having my first bone marrow biopsy on Wednesday and would be great to hear from any of you about how long the discomfort lasts after the procedure?

When were you able to get back to normal activity & exercise? Is there anything you’d recommend I do / don’t do immediately afterwards?

PLEASE don’t share details about the actual biopsy process itself!! I’ve got the headlines from my nurse and hearing the nitty gritty only serves to make me anxious and overthink! Im aware it’s unpleasant and I’m more of a “take a deep breath and get on with it” person.

Thanks for accommodating my very specific and mildly control freakish request 🤣

70 Replies

I was nervous but had no discomfort and no pain either during or after. I was told not to go to the gym or do exercise for a day.

I had sedation and was aware of nothing. I would take that if it's offered. Not much discomfort afterwards - I got married 4 days later! The only time it ached was when we went for a walk on our honeymoon, got lost and were out too long in the heat.

Wow that must have been an emotional rollercoaster of a week! Have only been offered local anaesthetic so fingers crossed that will do the trick!

It was but all the wedding preparations took my mind off everything else! I'm sure local anaesthetic will do the trick.

For my second one I had a local sedation and was able to drive home after an hour or so with a small bit of pain, similar to a bruise if you banged your knee off a table , lasted a couple of days at this dull level but did not stop me doing anything ..

Great to hear! Thanks

Im no help. My first BMB is on the 2nd September. Good luck and I hope it's as smooth sailing as possible. Oh. I was told to stop my asprin 2 days beforehand.

in reply to EmeraldA

I’m glad you found this thread so EmeraldA! Hopefully you’ll pick up some good info from it too. Stopping aspirin wasn’t mentioned to me so I’ll check in with my nurse on Monday to clarify - thanks for flagging it.

I’ll report back to let you know whether I’ve survived it 😂😂

in reply to IrishSarah

Please do! Thank you. Maybe a nice oral painkiller is in order! haha - sort of 🤣


I have had 2 bmb

I had gas an air with both of them and I wouldn’t of been able to of had them done without it. I’m young so was told it’s more painful as your bones are stronger. Sedation wasn’t an option at my hospital. But the gas an air was brilliant and if I was to have to have another bmb I wouldn’t be worried at all with the gas and air.

After I was sore and it was painful to walk for about a week but I just took paracetamol.

Take care you will be fine xx

Thanks! I haven’t been offered anything other than local anaesthetic and the sympathy puppy dog eyes from the haem team when I said “Sure it couldn’t be any worse than a lumber puncture, I’ll be fiiiiiiiiiine” 😂

Will check with nurse, might get a nice strong Valium to add some enjoyment to the experience 🤪

I have also had a lumbar puncture after the bmb and was told if I have had Bmb lumbar punctures would be a walk in the park 🤣 x

Liars the lot of them 😂

lumbar punchers are nothing compared to bmb 🤣

I like the way these doctors are telling younger people it might hurt them more. The bmb I had done in my twenties - in sternum - very little discomfort. BUT the one in my hip last year, when I was 74 required more than a local anaesthetic - which, needless to say, I didn't get. I did get a pain killer before the procedure but think it should have been taken earlier. Good luck. Some people get away with no pain.

It is true to say that that when your younger your bones are more stronger.. which means they are tougher to get through.

I guess my bones are younger than I am then! Anyway, they had to do the bmb twice as they couldn't get enough sample. I had the choice to come back another day but I chose to stay because they had already "gone in". I'm hoping I won't need any more.

I agree with you. I had my first BMB at age 52 in the doctor’s office which I hardly felt at all with no after effects. My second one was last year at age 63, in the hospital, with light sedation, and it took much longer, it was more painful, and hurt for days after. I was diagnosed with post et mf the second time. My hematologist sent me for a consult to an SCT specialist and he suggested that I have yearly biopsies, so I might be having a third one in a couple of months. :(

Take care.

I'd like to say that I had no nerves waiting for my BMB, so I wasn't setting myself up for pain. I can't remember whether I had gas and air but if I did, it made no difference. I have had gas and air while in labour and it was no good then either. I am wondering whether the pain is to do with the path the needle takes. It could be hitting nerves on its way to the bone. If I ever have to have another, I would definitely not want it without being anaesthetised but the hospital say they don't do it. Perhaps, as another writer here says, the more assertive a patient is the better treatment they get.

I’ve had 2 bmbs. The first one was in 2008. I had it in the doctor’s office. I was nervous so I took my sister with me. It wasn’t bad at all. My doctor numbed the area and the whole thing lasted only a few minutes. I drove myself home and I was fine. My second one was last year. My new hematologist wanted it done in the hospital under light sedation. Maybe because I was older (age 63), I actually felt it more and it lasted longer. The next day my whole body’ ached and the site was sore for a few days. Two very different experiences!

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

in reply to Cja1956

Will do thanks x

No problem afterwards. Just a bit stiff around the hip for a day or so. Don't worry about procedure either! Fran

in reply to azaelea

Thanks Fran x

Hi IrishSarah, I had my BMB nov ‘19 aged 42. I had a really nice dr do mine, as she went through the process she said that the younger you’re the more painful it could be. I foolishly tried it with local anaesthetic only but soon went for gas and air. This changed the whole process to pain free. The hip bone was bruised/painful for about two weeks, but it didn’t stop me from working and normal life at a slightly steadier pace.

I wasn’t able to drive home, just because of the gas and air. However, a couple of hours later I drove myself to work.

in reply to Vtr1000

That’s great info thanks 🙏🏻 I’m getting the sense that I should stop trying to be hardcore and just ask for some pain relief on top of the numbing. Thanks for your help😊

in reply to IrishSarah

My haematologist suggested I might have some sedation beforehand but because he didn’t order anything, I couldn’t get anything but local anaesthetic. If you want something to relax you, do get in touch with your doctor right away so you won’t be denied at the hospital. I can’t comment on my experience, it was my second bmb, and I’m 72.

Hi IrishSarah, I have had two BMBs. The first was done by a Sp Nurse with a local. It was uncomfortable at the time and sore for 2-3 days after. The second was also local, but still eye-wateringly painful. It was followed by several days of soreness. If I need another I will have everything I can have thrown at me incl gas and air. Hope this helps your decision.

Throw everything including the kitchen sink at it seems to be the general consensus for sure! Thanks for the advice 💚

I could hardly walk by the time I was driven home. Weeks of pain and eating painkillers like sweets.


I had the Penthrox green whistle for self administered analgesia - I would not be anxious at all if I needed another one - although my husband said that the next time he’d stay in the waiting room....😀 - I let him spoil me for the rest of the day and resumed normal activities the next day - although didn’t swim for a week....

The first one I had was done by a rookie doctor and I did have a sore back for several days - nothing horrible just a bit painful moving around. The second was done by a nurse and I was completely fine a couple of hours after! If you can ask for a nurse who is used to doing it that might not be a bad idea. Don’t worry about the procedure, though - it’s weird but honestly not that bad

in reply to Timjonze

Nurses are just the best when it comes to poking and prodding (no offence to any doctors on here 😂). Next level skills! I was wondering why my haematologist kept repeating how experienced the doctor doing the procedure would be. Think you’ve answered that one!!

Hi Irish Sarah,

Funny enough my middle name is Sarah and I'm Irish, what a coincidence. Now to answer your question.... I'd bone marrow biopsies done back in October last year, I was very nervous but procedure wasn't too bad, I was just offered gas n air which I took and I'd highly recommend it, I didn't really experience any real pain afterwards, just very mild discomfort and right as rain after couple days. Hope this helps, all the best for procedure and look forward to hearing how it all goes for you.

Love Phyllis 😍

in reply to Simris

Oh hey Twin 👋🏻😂

Are you still living in Ireland Phyllis?

in reply to IrishSarah

Hey back again twin 😂 Yip still in Ireland, have lived in Northern Ireland all my life, 8 miles or so from Belfast, are you still in Ireland? If so whereabouts??

Love Phyllis xx

in reply to Simris

I’m in Dublin. As far as I can make out there’s not too many of us here!

in reply to IrishSarah

Hey guys, I'm in Belfast. I was diagnosed in March this year.

in reply to IrishSarah

Yip looks like we're pretty unique here in Ireland, I've tried to find out if anyone else here but doesn't seem to be 😔 Good luck with bone marrow biopsy and hope it goes well for you.

Love Phyllis xx

in reply to Simris

Hi I'm in Lisburn, getting treatment in the Belfast City hospital. I had my bmb a few years ago and it was a bit 'sharp' on a couple of times during the event. Apparently I have strong bones! I was a bit stiff for a week or so but then the wound got infected and I had to get antibiotics to clear it up. Best of luck with yours!

in reply to Not2bad

Hi Not2bad,

great to hear that someone from northern ireland is on this group. I live in Ballyclare and have done for 38 years. Hope you don't mind me contacting you on here but so good to know of someone living "quite" closeby. Perhaps chat soon.

Love Phyllis x

Had mine done last May under local anaesthetic in a Hospital by a female haematologist, the whole procedure last less than 30 minutes, NO PAIN at all, didn't feel a thing. Couldn't see any wound after and recovered within few days, no bruise no discomfort.

Hubby was a bit stiff for the day & was advised not to drive for a couple of days as was in his right side so would affect braking but he was at work the next day because he needed to be really as no one else was in but he coped quite well. Helped to keep moving tbh.

Hey Sarah... 8-D

For me...?

Both of mine were a breeze... Seriously, barely felt or noticed a thing...

I used the inhaler device on both occasions...

Best wishes, and do let us know how you found the experience please...



Hello IrishSarah,

I had my bone marrow biopsy in New Zealand. I was given some hand-held gas & air to take, if I needed it. The whole procedure was quite comfortable and I honestly didn't feel any pain; just a little pressure. I expect the doctor who did the procedure was competent.

Afterwards, I was told to rest for a couple of hours and then I could go home and take it easy for a day or so. I had no complications.

I hope your experience is as positive as mine.

Thanks so much for sharing all of your experiences everyone! It’s so reassuring to be able to be able to chat to people who truly understand what this very unique MPN journey is like. Really grateful for this little community 💚

I’ve had two with local. Truthfully, not bad. The entire process is like 5 minutes, max. I didn’t find either painful at all. Good luck.

I had mine done with CT assistance, by an Interventional Radiologist, on Friday. I chose local anesthetic only-no sedation. It was no worse than an unpleasant dental visit. It hurt a bit now and then, but they warned me of what was coming. Today, Sunday morning, the site is sore, with some mild referred pain into that leg and low back, but not even with taking Tylenol for. I will be teaching my Monday evening yoga class tomorrow. My imagination was MUCH worse than the reality. Good luck with yours!

Great to hear! Thanks x

I have never had a BMB despite 30+ years with a MPN. Every hematologist I have seen, including two MPN Specialists say I do not need one. Will eventually have to have one once the disease state changes though.

There is a wide range of experiences with BMBs as you can see from the response you got. My plan for when I get a BMB is to either do light sedation or gas + local. It is something I will insist on. I lean towards gas + local so I can drive myself. The docs did advise me to be judicious in who/where I get the procedure done. Skill levels vary and it can impact the quality of the samples obtained.

Do remember that assertive patients receive higher quality care. Passive patients do not. If you are OK with the current plan - great. If you are not - change the plan. You have the right, for instance, to require gas with the procedure. If the facility refuses, go to a different facility. It is up to you to determine what is the best approach for you. Doctors advise, patients decide.

Please do let us know how things go. All the best my friend.

I had a local anaesthetic, and found the procedure was ok. I felt pressure and just a very brief moment of pain. I suffer with lower back nerve pain due to disc disease and that did seem to worsen for five days after the biopsy, but I took Ibuprofen twice a day for three days and then just at night for two, and then was fine. No lasting effects. I hope all goes well for you.

Was put to sleep. No pain, no discomfort....nothing. Good luck

Hi Sarah! I had my first BMB done 2 months ago. I had a few jabs of local anaesthetic, and did some deep breathing. The wound was tiny and I had no pain afterwards, just a bit of stiffness in the hips. I was back doing Joe Wicks after a few days. I’m 40 btw. Let us know how it goes 🧡

Hello. I was nervous but I need not to have worried. It was painless and I had no anaesthetic. I think it’s the unknown that causes the worrying

Take care.

I biked home after and only had to take pain killers after about 5 hours and then keep them ip for about 48 hours. Was sore but could do gym classes after a couple of days as far ad I remember :-) good luck - hope it won’t be a big deal for you!

I had one done a few months ago and I was lucky enough to have no discomfort afterwards, and just told to take it easy for the rest of the day.

I remember the nervousness but it was totally unnecessary. I had virtually no discomfort either during or after the procedure. My other half, sitting watching, was in more discomfort than I was!

It was a bit weird but not too bad. More bruising from hitting the saddle on my mountain bike the next day than the biopsy itself.

Hi Sarah,

I hope all went well today.

Judy x

in reply to piggie50

Thanks for thinking of me Judy 💚

I managed to survive it and am home in bed with a steady supply of strawberries and Lindt chocolate for my troubles 😂

😂 sounds just perfect. Enjoy x

I was nervous too. My Dr. smiled and told me had alot of experience and not to worry. Local anesthesia injected to numb the tissues. It hurts SO much more to bite your tongue or stub your toe! I left with a small round bandaid. You'll do well. The material sampled will provide you and your healthcare team a treasure trove of information. The facts then help direct your care.

Good luck!

It’s not as bad as your brain makes it! The after is fine, but mine was sore for a few days... like laying on the floor in my back, couldn’t do it . Felt like a huge bruise (duh 😆) but I was back at working the next day

Checking in to wrap up this thread for any future MPNers who come across it!

1 week post procedure and aside from the occasional twinge when I sit or lie on the biopsy site it’s like it never happened.

Will give a brief summary here - headline is that I found it bearable but very painful with only local anesthetic, wouldn’t do it again without some form of sedation or additional pain relief.

Disclaimer! Other people had no pain from BMB so experiences obviously vary. I’m also 37 & doc commented that he had to use a lot of force on me as I have very strong bones (got a gold star for my calcium levels 😇 😂). Not sure if relevant or TMI but I had started my period on the day (ladies will know we’re a bit more sensitive to pain at that point in cycle).

I usually have a pretty high pain tolerance, so when told doc doing procedure was really experienced and that I’d be fine with only local anesthetic I was a little hesitant but agreed. Hesitant because others on this forum had recommended gas/air/light sedative and that’s what I’d asked for beforehand. For me, agreeing to LA only on the day was a mistake. In retrospect I should have taken ALL available drugs!

Procedure only took about 15 minutes - during which there were 4 or 5 progressively worse sharp bursts of pain, thankfully only lasting 1-2minutes each. Didn’t feel the incision at all, the aspiration/liquid part was intense at times but fine (expletives were uttered), the biopsy/solid part was pretty excruciating.

The 2 days afterwards were very uncomfortable - site quite bruised, sharp pain if sitting/lying in the wrong position, stiff walking around, couldn’t bear weight without pain on hip for more than 5 minutes. Paracetamol and sleeping with a pregnancy pillow helped. After that I was pretty much back to normal with the odd dull/hollow ache sensation.

On a positive note I got to see my samples afterwards which my inner nerd thoroughly enjoyed 😂

Thanks for all of the advice and reassurance gang 💚

in reply to IrishSarah

Thanks for the info I appreciate the detail as well!! At least that bit is over you and the chocolate is we deserved! From reading your experince I am inclined to ask for something as well as the LA they give, when I go for mine in September. Although what that would be I dont know. Did they tell you how long it takes to get the results? Have you had a spleen ultrasound yet? x

in reply to EmeraldA

I was thinking of you writing that EmeraldA!

From what others have said here it’s either gas&air or a sedative.

Hospital told me they weren’t providing gas&air (Not certain but I think due to covid), but could give me a light sedative if I needed it. I was sweet talked into giving the procedure a try with just LA, with the offer to take a sedative during the procedure if I needed it. By the time I realised that the LA wasn’t cutting the mustard I was half way through the biopsy, and the thought of stopping to wait for drugs to kick in seemed worse so I just told the doc to keep going. Not the wisest decision I’ve ever made 😂

So my advice would be - better to take the pain relief and not need it, rather than need it when you haven’t taken it!

My next appointment with results is 15days after biopsy. As far as I know standard is 2-3weeks.

No spleen ultrasound on the cards for me, consultant had a feel around my abdomen and all seems ok.

in reply to IrishSarah

Thanks for thinking of me. :) Wish I had it over haha!! That's it going to ask for the light sedation beforehand. Your advice is just right better to take it and not need it. We live in a time of modern medicine and should not have to experience pain when u dont have to, so thanks for that!! I dont know what I would have done without the advice and info I have learnt from all the people here on MPNVoice honestly. x

in reply to EmeraldA

That’s it exactly! We’re already suffering enough by living through the year 2020 🤣 🤣🤣

Every bit as likely that it’ll be a breeze for you and the nerves will be worse than the actual procedure x

(Ps: I completely forgot to mention the other essential recovery tool - Lindt chocolate. The orange kind.ESSENTIAL)

in reply to IrishSarah

Haha! I will defo be treating myself afterwards!! I'll just try and remember that nearly everyone here has had a BMB and lived to tell the tale.

Hi Sarah,

Only just caught up on here, glad that it is over for you, and good to read your opinion of the procedure.

I agree with you totally, far better to have Everything!

I have never discussed my experience with BMB x 2 back in 2018 just turned 66 years..

I wasn’t offered any Sedation prior to the procedure..

I had Local Anaethesia, Gas & Air wasn’t on offer..😬

My wonderful Haematologist apologised that I didn’t have Sedation offered prior..

She is hugely experienced and tried desperately to break through my Strong Bone to get the Marrow.

After 10 minutes and physical exhaustion for her, she gave up..

I cannot describe the pain I was in, I would prefer to have a baby naturally. ☹️

Two weeks later I returned for the second attempt at BMB..

Again Gas & Air not available, I had a Sedative & LA..

This time my Haematologist had a colleague with her for extra muscle/ strength to break through the Hard Bones..

Huge pressure on my body and extremely painful in bouts of sharp pain as you described..

Sample taken I was somewhat shocked & in pain..

Got home put a brave face on it for hubby and adult daughter’s ..

Several hours later I felt as if my body was expanding hugely..

Checked myself out in the mirror and discovered I was Black/Purple down to knee level...

I had just retired from Nursing at the Hospital I attended, thus I knew what was wrong.

I had a huge Haematoma, Bleeding into the tissue around the Buttock & down the leg..

I had to attend the Haematology Hospital in Bristol immediately to have drugs to stop the Bleed..

My local Haematologist saw me daily for 9 days and eventually after a month or so the bruising and blood staining cleared..

Like you I was kind of talked into doing the BMB without Sedation.

Gas & Air was not available at my hospital..

I was guilt tripped on, “ your a nurse you can do this, you have had children etc this is easy” said my then CNS..

I should have put my pride aside and forgotten I’m a RGN that worked in the hospital just prior to being diagnosed with ET etc, etc.

I agree with Hunter when he says, “if the facility you attend doesn’t offer what you need, change the hospital to one that gives you the choice of Gas&Air etc”....

We are all different and regardless of age Bones can be Strong when young & older..

Have everything to make the process easier to bare..

I would definitely insist I attend Bristol Haematology Hospital for another BMB with Gas, Sedation, & L A...

I have kept quiet about my experience until now, not wishing to frighten anyone awaiting BMB.

Now I believe it’s better for folk to realise it’s Not Always Easy, & age often makes Zero Difference to Bones..

Haematology agreed my Bones are Hard and Experience of doing the procedure is hugely important..

My particular Haematologist is brilliant, experienced and was very sad at what happened to me..

Sadly she has since returned to her native Greece, I trust her implicitly so much so if I need another BMB I would happily go to Greece for her to do it with Gas & Air etc if I could..

Maybe it’s the Irish ☘️ in me that gave me strong bones..

My grandmother was born in Dublin, great grandmother hailed from Kilkenny, either way I’m a Celt born in Wales...

Some years ago BMB was routinely done under General Anaesthesia, much kinder....

Good Luck with your Results, Take Care..

Maria 😊

Wow what an ordeal Maria, you’re an absolute trooper!

That’s interesting to hear that age isn’t a factor in bone strength. I’m guessing high calcium by osmosis spending 11 months of the year in rainy Ireland! You must have hit the jackpot with Irish roots watered by welsh rain 🤣. I guess we should count ourselves lucky that osteoporosis isn’t on the horizon.

I’m a big fan of mind over matter and a positive attitude, but sometimes i think we can do ourselves and others a disservice by “brave facing” it! It’s really been super helpful to me to read the variety of everyone’s accounts & experiences including yours, so thanks for sharing honestly 💚

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