What happens before the bone marrow harvest?

The procedure is performed in an operating room. General anesthesia, which induced sleep, is used for this procedure. Before the procedure, there may be some possible tests needed:

  • Blood tests: Samples of blood will be drawn from a vein in your arm and the following laboratory tests will be performed: CBC (complete blood count), CMP (comprehensive metabolic panel), Pregnancy test (all females of child- bearing potential), Bleeding times, ABO blood type, Infectious disease tests (human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), toxoplasmosis, hepatitis, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), herpes, HTLV I/II, varicella, and syphilis).
  • Electrocardiogram (a graph of the electrical impulses traveling through the heart to evaluate heart function)
  • Chest X-ray (Picture of the lungs).

How is the bone marrow harvested?

When you are taken into the operating room, you will be placed on your stomach. A special needle is placed through the skin into the marrow cavity of the hipbone, where stem cells and blood are aspirated. Two or three skin punctures are made on each rear hipbone. Although the punctures will not show, there are bone punctures underneath the skin.

To obtain rich marrow, many small aspirations must be done. Once the procedure is finished, a bandage is placed over the needle marks to protect them.

About 1 to 2 quarts of bone marrow are collected during the harvest procedure. Although this might sound like a large amount, it is only about 5 percent of your total marrow cells. Collection generally takes about an hour, but each individual donation varies.

In addition to stem cells, many red blood cells also are harvested. These will be given back to you in the recovery room through your IV.

What happens to the bone marrow that is collected?

While you are in the operating room, the marrow is filtered to remove fat or particles of bone. The marrow is then taken to the laboratory for processing. It is then infused into the patient and takes about ½ hour.

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