[Histonet] Decalcification of bone marrows

Bob Richmond rsrichmond at gmail.com
Sat Jun 6 18:19:53 CDT 2015

Adrienne (where?) asks: "I have a really quick question: about how long
does it take to decal a bone marrow biopsy?" to which Jessica (where? -
apparently in the US though) replies "It all depends on what you use for
decal. We use 5% Nitric acid for 1 hour or so. Sometimes it needs a bit
more time."

To decalcify a Jamshidi needle bone marrow biopsy specimen in one of the
ordinary commercial decalcifiers (usually hydrochloric acid, all deep dark
trade secrets) takes about two hours.

Nitric acid is NOT an acceptable decalcifier today, since it destroys
immunoreactivity. I used to use it for most decalcification in the days
before immunohistochemistry, but remember I've been practicing pathology
for more than fifty years.

Successful processing of bone marrow biopsy specimens requires cooperation
among hematologist-oncologists, pathologists, and histotechnologists.
(Dream on!) Practically speaking, you have to set a deadline - if your
specimen arrives after 2 PM (for example) it doesn't get processed until

Once again - Decal is the registered trademark of Decal Chemical
Corporation's proprietary decalcifier. It is not a generic word for
decalcifiers. (No, I don't work for them.)

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Maryville, TN

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