Bone Marrow Biopsy for Dogs

A bone marrow biopsy is recommended if the vet suspects a disease. The bone marrow is in charge with producing the red and white blood cells, and it can be found inside the bones. When the dog has an infection, the bone marrow will produce an increased number of white cells. If the dog is affected by a different disease causing a decrease in the red blood cells, the bone marrow will have more red blood cells.

Bone Marrow Biopsy for Dogs

The bone marrow biopsy is a test that involves getting a sample of bone marrow and analyzing it under a microscope. In dogs, the bone marrow biopsy is used to determine if there is a red or white cell deficiency (caused by different diseases and infections), but may also be performed to test the effect of certain therapies or drugs on the dog's body. A bone marrow test will also reveal the presence of cancerous cells in the dog's body.

How to Prepare the Pet for Bone Marrow Biopsy

A bone marrow biopsy is a painful procedure and the dog should be prepared in advance. Local or general anesthesia will be administered to make the dog cooperative, and the vet will then be able to extract the bone marrow sample. Try keeping your dog calm prior to the biopsy. The vet may remove the hair from the area where the needle will be inserted, but this is not always necessary.

Bone Marrow Biopsy Technique

The bone marrow biopsy will be done using a needle (biopsy needle), which will be introduced in a bone (typically the backbone or ribs, as these contain more marrow matter). However, if the dog is suspected of having bone cancer localized in certain areas, the vet will insert the needle in the affected bone. Bone marrow biopsies can be performed in the hip bones, shoulders or thigh bones.

Using the needle, the vet will extract a bit of bone marrow fluid. The needle is gently extracted and the fluid will be taken for testing. The vet may perform the analysis or he may choose to send the bone marrow sample to a pathologist. The procedure may take up to 30 minutes, depending on the bone that is being analyzed.

Biopsy Side Effects

A bone marrow biopsy will typically have no side effects. However, some dogs may develop an irritation to the anesthetic used.

Bone Marrow Biopsy Aftercare

After the bone marrow biopsy, you should pay special attention to your pet. The anesthetic should wear off within two to five hours and you will have to get a few efficient pain medications to manage the dog's condition. Some dogs may experience more pain than others.

The incision site should be small and will most likely not get infected. However, keep an eye on the incision site and report any abnormalities such as swelling, pus or redness.