Procedure To Conduct a Bone Marrow Cell Culture

Submitted by Medical Health Test Team on November 12, 2012

octors perform the bone marrow cell culture on a bone marrow specimen in a laboratory to find out the organisms that cause infection. Bone marrow is the soft fatty tissue that is found in certain bones. Blood cells are produced by the bone marrow.

Why is a Bone Marrow Cell Culture Done?

A bone marrow cell culture is done by placing a sample of bone marrow on a special dish called a culture dish. This sample is then incubated with nutrients to check and see if there is any bacterial or fungal growth on the bone marrow. The laboratory specialist on a daily basis takes a look at the tissue to check for the growth of any fungi, bacteria, or viruses. These are what may cause some infections or fevers and are difficult to diagnose otherwise. The sample for the bone marrow cell culture is usually taken from the breast bone or the pelvic bone.


A specimen for the bone marrow cell culture is collected either through a bone marrow aspiration or through a biopsy. A hematologist usually performs this procedure. In the case of children it is important that you prepare the child as it helps in reducing crying and they exhibit less distress.

The test involves collecting a specimen from the sternum or the rear of the pelvic bone. An antibacterial soap is used to cleanse the area. An anesthetic is used to numb the skin that covers the bone. The doctor then inserts a large needle into the bone through the skin right up to the bone's cavity that holds the marrow and aspirates out a specimen. You may feel some pain and discomfort when this procedure is being performed. The area might also be a bit sore, but this will last for only a couple of hours, or at the most for a couple of days.

Sometimes doctors perform a bone marrow biopsy along with the culture. For this, the doctor will insert a needle that is larger and hollowed to remove a sample of bone marrow. Part of this sample is then used for biopsy whereas the remaining is used for culture. This could also be painful and there might be a feeling of undue pressure in the area. The pain can be reduced with the help of a local anesthetic that is injected near the area.

Your doctor will generally recommend that you go in for the test when you have fever that is unexplained or if he or she suspects that you have some infection of the bone marrow.

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