What are the Different Types of Bone Marrow Treatment?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Numerous treatments for various medical conditions can involve the bone marrow. Bone marrow treatment commonly involves a bone marrow transplant, in which healthy stem cells from bone marrow are transplanted into a patient who lacks healthy bone marrow or who is not producing the right kind of cells in his or her bone marrow. Bone marrow treatment typically takes place in a hospital, and can include a hospital stay, depending on the type of procedure being done.

Three pieces of bone with the marrow in the middle.
Three pieces of bone with the marrow in the middle.

In a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, a sample of someone's bone marrow is taken, usually from the pelvis. One reason to do this is for diagnostic purposes, so that bone marrow can be examined in a laboratory setting. It may also be done for the purpose of collecting bone marrow for transplant, or for typing bone marrow to determine whether or not it can be used in a transplant.

Some patients are fortunate enough to have a twin to donate bone marrow.
Some patients are fortunate enough to have a twin to donate bone marrow.

Another type of bone marrow treatment involves exposing the bone marrow to chemotherapy, radiation, or both. This is often used to prepare a patient for transplant by killing off her or his bone marrow. Patients are extremely vulnerable during this phase of treatment, and are usually kept in isolation so that they will not get sick. Chemotherapy and radiation can also be used in an attempt to beat a bone marrow cancer, with the hopes of preserving the patient's bone marrow by killing off the cancer cells.

When it comes to a bone marrow transplant, there are a number of options. One involves a transplant of stem cells from the umbilical cord of the patient, or from a sample of the patient's bone marrow taken before the patient underwent chemotherapy and radiation, known as autologous donation. A patient can also receive an allogenic donation of bone marrow from someone else, such as a family member or a stranger with the right type of bone marrow. Finally, for patients fortunate enough to have twins, a syngeneic bone marrow transplant can be performed with donor marrow from the patient's twin.

The goal of any bone marrow treatment is to address some sort of problem with a patient's bone marrow. That problem might be cancer, a genetic condition which impairs bone marrow function, or another medical issue. Because the bone marrow produces blood cells, it is an extremely important part of the body, and bone marrow treatment needs to be performed with care to avoid exposing the patient to unnecessary risks.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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