Aspiration assesses cell morphology. Biopsy assesses overall marrow architecture, including degree of cellularity. Biopsy should precede aspiration to avoid aspiration artifact (mainly hemorrhage) in the specimen.
Hypoproliferative or unexplained anemia, leukopenia, or thrombocytopenia, suspected leukemia or myeloma or marrow defect, evaluation of iron stores, workup of some cases of fever of unknown origin.
Histochemical staining (leukemias), cytogenetic studies (leukemias, lymphomas), microbiology (bacterial, mycobacterial, fungal cultures), Prussian blue (iron) stain (assessment of iron stores, diagnosis of sideroblastic anemias).
Performed in addition to aspiration for pancytopenia (aplastic anemia), metastatic tumor, granulomatous infection (e.g., mycobacteria, brucellosis, histoplasmosis), myelofibrosis, lipid storage disease (e.g., Gaucher’s, Niemann-Pick), any case with “dry tap” on aspiration; evaluation of marrow cellularity. When biopsy and aspirate are both planned, the biopsy should be performed first because of the risk of bleeding artifact from biopsy of an aspiration site.
Histochemical staining (e.g., acid phosphatase for metastatic prostate carcinoma), immunoperoxidase staining (e.g., immunoglobulin or cell surface marker detection in multiple myeloma, leukemia, or lymphoma; lysozyme detection in monocytic leukemia), reticulin staining (increased in myelofibrosis), microbiologic staining (e.g., acid-fast staining for mycobacteria).
Defined as percentage of space occupied by hematopoietic cells. The space that is not hematopoietic tissue is usually fat. Cellularity decreases with age after age 65 years from about 50% to 25–30% with a corresponding increase in fat.
Erythroid:Granulocytic (E:G) Ratio
Normally about 1:2, the E:G ratio is decreased in acute and chronic infection, leukemoid reactions (e.g., chronic inflammation, metastatic tumor), acute and chronic myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic disorders (“preleukemia”), and pure red cell aplasia; increased in agranulocytosis, anemias with erythroid hyperplasia (megaloblastic, iron-deficiency, thalassemia, hemorrhage, hemolysis, sideroblastic), and erythrocytosis (excessive RBC production); normal in aplastic anemia (though marrow hypocellular), myelofibrosis (marrow hypocellular), multiple myeloma, lymphoma, anemia of chronic disease. Some centers use the term M:E (myeloid to erythroid) ratio; normal value is 2:1 and increases with diseases that promote myeloid activity or inhibit erythroid activity and decreases with diseases that inhibit myeloid activity or promote erythroid activity.
For a more detailed discussion, see Adamson JW, Longo DL: Anemia and Polycythemia, Chap. 77, p. 392; Holland SM, Gallin JI: Disorders of Granulocytes and Monocytes, Chap. 80, p. 413; and Longo DL: Atlas of Hematology and Analysis of Peripheral Blood Smears, Chap. 81e in HPIM-19.