Mycobacterial culture of bone marrow

Alternative names
Culture - mycobacterial of bone marrow

Mycobacterial culture of bone marrow is a test to determine if tuberculosis and other similar bacteria are present in the bone marrow.

How the test is performed
A bone marrow aspiration or biopsy is performed. A sample of bone marrow is placed in culture media specific for tuberculosis and other similar bacteria. It is then examined for growth at routine intervals. Sometimes an acid-fast stain is done initially to help with the diagnosis.

How to prepare for the test
You must sign an informed consent form before the bone marrow biopsy. It is important to remain as still as possible during the test. There is no other special preparation.

Infants and children:
The preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child’s age, previous experiences, and level of trust. For general information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:

How the test will feel
The skin over the biopsy or aspiration site (usually the back of the hip or the sternum) will be cleansed. An anesthetic will be injected into the skin surrounding the site to numb the site. Even with the anesthetic, there may be pain or pressure as the bone marrow is removed. The discomfort in the area can last for several days and even weeks.

Why the test is performed
The test is performed if infection of the bone marrow with tuberculosis or other similar bacteria is suspected.

Normal Values
The bone marrow is normally sterile (no organisms are present).

What abnormal results mean
An infection of the bone marrow with tuberculosis or other similar bacteria. This may also signify disseminated tuberculosis.

What the risks are
There is a slight risk of bleeding or infection from the test.

Special considerations
Not applicable.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 7, 2012
by Sharon M. Smith, M.D.

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