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Bone Marrow Biopsy – Pain Levels by Procedure Type

Home Demo forums Patient Message Board Bone Marrow Biopsy – Pain Levels by Procedure Type

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    Marie Yeager

    I would welcome everyone’s feedback on the type of bone marrow procedure you or your loved one had, the level of pain experienced (1-10, with 10 being terrible pain), and what if any anesthesia was received. I ask this because my husband has MDS and his first BM biopsy was extremely painful – they gave him a shot of lidocaine and then used a power drill to extract the marrow. It was like something out of a medieval torture chamber. His doctor is considering another biopsy and wants him to have the same procedure, to which we asked “Isn’t there a better way?” His response was pretty much “It is what it is – they must have hit a nerve last time.” My husband has been through hell the past 2 years and there isn’t a whole lot available regarding bone marrow biopsy options and pain comparisons. We are wondering if there IS actually a better way and what we need to push for – other than having a power drill pushed into his hip bone? Any and all advice is most welcome and appreciated!



    My first BMB in 2016, was done in a local hospital under sedation. It was totally painless.
    I had a second BMB the following month in the doctor’s office at a Center of Excellence. I traveled 3 hrs for that appointment(second opinion). The BMB was performed by a physician assistant and was very painful (7 of 10). I thought the same as you regarding the medieval torture chamber. Shot of lidocaine and the provider did not use a drill.
    I receive an annual BMB at the same Center of Excellence and the experience is the same procedure but is performed by the MD and has been mostly painless (lidocaine and small drill). I’ll call it a 2 on the 1 to 10 scale. I think hitting a nerve is something that makes the experience less pleasant but if an experienced provider performs the procedure it is very much tolerable. My provider has been doing them for close to 40 years.

    I’m getting my 8th BMB on 12/7 and expect a relatively pain free experience. I am always able to drive the 3 hours back home after the procedure.

    Best wishes.

    Bill Corbin

    I have had three BMB procedures. The first was in January 2021; the one that confirmed my MDS diagnosis was in Nov 2021. After five cycles of Vidaza injections I had my third BMB in Apr 2022. All three we performed by my Oncologist with lidocaine to anesthetize the soft tissue. The bone penetration and collection of fluid and bone marrow were done manually, using some kind of heavy needle like awl. She used a lot of pressure while using whatever the instrument was that penetrated the bone. Discomfort probably 3, definitely uncomfortable, but still tolerable.

    Marie Yeager

    Thank you so much for the feedback Michael. Your perspective is very helpful – greatly appreciate that you took the time to share your own experiences. I hate the thought of anyone having to get so many BMBs and wish you well for your December 7th visit. Hoping it is painless and brings good news for you! Best wishes, Marie

    Marie Yeager

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience with me Bill. I’m so sorry you are going through this. My heart goes out to anyone dealing with this disease – certainly changes your life perspective, right? So grateful for this community! I hope your BMBs continue to be tolerable and hopefully bring you better news. It sounds like my husband’s experience was perhaps not the norm, but no way to know until they do it whether or not there is a nerve at that location. The thought of someone drilling into bone still makes my head spin. Thank you again for sharing,Marie


    I had 2 in 2 days. My first one was done by a resident and not a good experience. After the lidocaine shot the resident who was obviously nervous and took over 20 minutes. By this time the lidocaine was wearing off. The doctor who accompanied him noticed I was starting to feel it I told them just to finish. The sample they got was rather small and my hematologist came by the next day for another. He gave me a shot in my other hip and was in and out in about 5 minutes. By the time the lidocaine wore off he probably had it in the lab.
    The instrument he used looked like a miniature version of a soil core sampler.
    Hope all goes well for you and your husband Marie.


    both BMBs were done in the hospital outpatient department under IV sedation. no pain. I had a choice and chose to be sedated. I tolerate pain pretty well, but was very nervous. this is what I strongly recommend.

    Marie Yeager

    Thank you Lisa.

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