[Histonet] Re: bone marrow aspirations

Bob Richmond rsrichmond <@t> gmail.com
Sun Jun 2 12:23:13 CDT 2013

At a time (about 35 years ago) when I was performing a lot of bone marrow
aspirations and biopsies and had full control over my methods, I would
perform a Westerman-Jensen needle biopsy, fixing that core specimen
immediately and later decalcifying it, followed by a guardless Rosenthal
needle aspiration (both in the posterior iliac crest).

I would squirt some of the aspirate onto a slanted slide to pick out
particles (don't call them spicules - that's bone) and prepare smears (or
rather, have my assistant do that).

I would then squirt some of the aspirate directly into neutral buffered
formalin and give it a gentle shake. NBF doesn't clot blood, so I'd have a
suspension of marrow particles I'd filter through a tea bag (now I'd use
one of those little nylon bags) to be embedded as a cell block.

I'd then let the rest of the aspirate clot in the syringe, so I'd also have
a clot section block. I'd fix the core specimen and the clot in
Zenker/Helly fixative, which of course you can't do today.

I'd thus have the smears, and three paraffin blocks. My yield of metastatic
cancer was probably a good bit higher than with less exacting methods.

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Maryville TN

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