Bone Marrow & Lumbar Puncture March 2014

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I got a phone call asking me to attend hospital for a number of biopsies and that I would be admitted for a few days. They explained that the oncologist had organized these two test.

Dr Google got busy again. I had an idea what a Lumbar Punch was but I was unsure about the bone marrow biopsy.

Bone Marrow

Please excuse how direct I will be about this procedure. A bone marrow biopsy involves removing a small sample of the bone marrow inside your bones for testing. Bone marrow is a soft tissue in the center of most large bones. It makes most of the body’s blood cells. The biopsy is done using a small needle inserted into the bone. The procedure was performed when I was awake. Not very pleasant. Basically you are placed into a curled up position on your side, you place your knees up to your chest and remain as still as possible. The oncologist then takes a type of spike and punches into the pelvis bone. Local anesthetic are used but you can feel it. The oncologist then rotates the spike to drill through the bone (it is not a large drill but takes a lot of force), once in they then place a syringe into the bone to extract the bone marrow. They removed about 3 large tubes of marrow. It’s a procedure that you are undressed with your bum exposed fully, this is where you need to leave embarrassment at the door of the hospital

Lumbar Puncture

Lumbar Punch Needle

Follow the bone marrow extraction they proceeded to do a Lumbar puncture, also known as a spinal tap, is a medical procedure in which a needle is inserted into the spinal canal, most commonly to collect cerebrospinal fluid for diagnostic testing. The main reason for a lumbar puncture is to help diagnose diseases of the central nervous system, including the brain and spine.   

Lumbar Punch

Basically you remain in a similar position as the Bone Marrow procedure except your keens are lower. The doctor then inserts a long needle into the base of your spine. You absolutely must not flinch. It is a reasonable quick procedure and the area is still numb from the bone marrow biopsy

Fluid is extracted and sent for various test

After these procedures I was moved to a chemotherapy ward. Following the bone marrow biopsy you are kept in a hospital bed for about 6 hours to allow the area of the bone to heal. A constant IV of Saline (Saline is a mixture of sodium chloride and water) is used to help with rapid healing of the bone, but you must stay on your back and you are not allowed up until the nurses are satisfied that the puncture bone has healed.

My oncologist came in about 4 hours after the procedure and had some of the results from a blood test that morning “The good news is that you do not have AIDs” I was taken back and asked “What has that to do with Lymphoma Doctor ?” Unknown to me AIDs is actually a power house for Lymphoma and can create Hodgkin’s – I really felt like I was on a learning course at this point. I asked if they had any idea what may have caused the Lymphoma to occur – a question that can be a red flag but to be fair to the oncologist he said “If we could answer that question we would be very rich” I do like this guy.  

Before I was discharged the folowing day I was introduced to the Day Chemotherapy Ward, this would be my first visit out of many to come. The weighed me and took my height. The Ward was busy and it was really the first time since my father passed away in 1994 that I have entered a Cancer Ward. Memories flooded back and at this point I took the approach as “Bring it on and let me kill this cancer”

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