Navigate Up

Pediatric Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Z

Print This Page

Bone marrow culture

Bone marrow culture is an examination of the soft, fatty tissue found inside certain bones. This tissue, called bone marrow, produces blood cells. This test is done to find out if there is an infection inside the bone marrow.

Alternative Names

Culture - bone marrow

How the test is performed

The doctor removes a sample of your bone marrow from the back of your pelvic bone or breast bone. This is usually done with a small needle inserted into your bone, which is called a bone marrow aspiration or a biopsy .

The removed tissue is sent to a lab. It is placed into a special container called a culture dish. Every day, the laboratory specialist will look at the tissue under a microscope to see if any bacteria, fungi, or viruses have grown.

If any bacteria, fungi, or viruses are found, other tests may be done to learn which drugs will kill the organisms. Treatment can then be started based on these results.

How the test will feel

You may feel pressure and pain as the marrow is being removed. (You may be given some numbing medicine, called anesthesia, before the procedure.)

Soreness at the site usually lasts from a few hours to 1-2 days.

Why the test is performed

You may have this test if you have an unexplained fever or if your health care provider thinks you have an infection of the bone marrow.

Normal Values

No growth of bacteria, viruses, or fungi in the culture is normal.

What abnormal results mean

Abnormal results suggest that you have an infection of the bone marrow. The infection may be from bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

What the risks are

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Special considerations

Fluid (aspirate) or a piece of tissue (biopsy specimen) from the bone marrow may be sent to the laboratory for many different types of tests. These tests study how immature blood cells look, and how they are developing.

References

Castro-Malaspina H, O'Reilly R. Aplastic anemia and related disorders. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2007:chap 171.

Murray PR, Witebsky FG. The clinician and the microbiology laboratory. In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Disease. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2009:chap 227.

Updated: 2/28/2011

David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; and Yi-Bin Chen, MD, Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com