Bone marrow biopsy

When and why

In HIV disease, a bone marrow biopsy is usually carried out to find the cause of a persistent fever, anaemia (low blood count), or other blood disorder such as a low platelet count. It may also be necessary to assess the severity of a tumour. It is a routine procedure that can be done on the ward or in an outpatient clinic.

A sample of bone marrow is usually taken from the hip bone. To ensure the procedure is less painful, a local anaesthetic is injected into the skin and soft tissues over the bone. However, there is usually some pain once the effect of the local anaesthetic has worn off. Once the procedure is over, discomfort can be eased by use of an analgesic. Part of the sample is sent to the laboratory to be examined under the microscope (histology) and part is placed in special culture bottles to identify any infecting bacteria or fungi.

How it will help

In HIV infection, bone marrow biopsy frequently helps determine the cause of unexplained fevers, anaemia, and other blood disorders. It is useful in diagnosing certain opportunistic infections (disseminated mycobacterium avium, coccidiomycosis, or histoplasmosis) and malignancies (Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma).

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

Together, we can make it happen

We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

Launched today, the Community Consensus Statement is a basic set of principles aimed at making sure that happens.

The Community Consensus Statement is a joint initiative of AVAC, EATG, MSMGF, GNP+, HIV i-Base, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, ITPC and NAM/aidsmap

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.

NAM’s information is intended to support, rather than replace, consultation with a healthcare professional. Talk to your doctor or another member of your healthcare team for advice tailored to your situation.