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What Is Bone Marrow Aspiration?

Bone marrow aspirate concentrate is made from fluid taken from bone marrow. The bone marrow aspirate contains stem cells that can help the healing of some bone and joint conditions. Bone marrow aspirate concentrate is obtained with a minimally invasive procedure that avoids the risks of an open bone graft procedure.

Stem cells can be used to help with bone healing, cartilage repair and new blood vessel growth. Using stem cells may treat delayed union or nonunion of bone fractures, cartilage defects, osteonecrosis, chronic tendon problems, or chronic wounds.

You should avoid this method if you have an infection or cancer. Make an appointment with your foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon to discuss your options.


A needle is used to remove bone marrow from within the bone. This typically is done under sedation or general anesthesia. Marrow commonly is taken from the pelvis but may be taken from other sites.

Bone marrow aspiration usually is performed on the same side of the body as the foot or ankle procedure. The sample of bone marrow is removed and then spun down in a centrifuge to separate the cells. A liquid is produced that has a high concentration of stem cells. The surgeon injects the stems cells directly into the surgical site or mixes it with a graft.

In-office bone marrow aspirations may be performed for certain conditions; however, they are very painful and usually not well-tolerated.

Specific Technique

The pelvis is marked and prepped to keep the site sterile. A hollow needle is inserted into the bone and a syringe is used to withdraw fluid from the bone marrow. After enough fluid has been collected, the needle is removed. Pressure is applied to the needle site to stop the bleeding. A small dressing is then applied.


After aspiration, there usually is pain at the pelvis that goes away within several days. A small dressing or bandage is kept at the aspiration site until it has healed.

Risks and Complications

Complications may include pain, bleeding, infection, and nerve injury. Intra-abdominal injury may occur because of the needle.


How much pain can I expect after the procedure?
Post-operative pain from aspiration of the pelvis usually is much less intense than the pain from the procedure at the foot or ankle. The pelvic pain may be present for approximately one week. The pain medicine prescribed by your foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon for the procedure should be sufficient to treat the pain at the pelvis.


Original article by Christine Seaworth, MD
Last reviewed by David Garras, MD, 2018

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