So we’ve talked about the functions of our blood, and then covered each blood part (Plasma, RBCs, WBCs, and my personal favorite, platelets) individually. Now I think we should talk about where are blood cells originate.
As mentioned blood cells begin in the bone marrow. Bone marrow is a soft tissue that is found mostly in the long bones, pelvis and vertebrae. There are two types of marrow in the human body; Red Marrow which produces red cells, white cells and platelets, and Yellow Marrow which contains fat and connective tissue. When born, the human body only contains red marrow but by adulthood about half of the red marrow has been replaced by yellow. Red marrow can still be found in in the skull, spine, hip bones, ribs and sternum.
As many of you probably know, the way a blood cancer/disorder is definitively diagnosed is a bone marrow biopsy. This procedure is generally performed in the clinic, with the patient under light sedation. When mine was done, my doctor was at a free standing clinic, with no anesthesiologist, or respiratory support available…so unfortunately for me, there was no sedation…just a local in the back of my hip. While laying on my stomach on the table, the doctor sterilized the area he had chosen. After the local had gone to work, the doctor made a very small incision, and inserted the needle. The needle is screwed down into the bone, almost like a corkscrew to open a bottle of wine. After the doctor gets through the bone, they will use a syringe to remove a sample of liquid marrow, then goes a bit deeper with the needle to remove a small solid piece of marrow as well. Aspirating the liquid marrow is pretty painful, which is why there is usually a sedative given to the patient. After the samples have been removed, the doctor or nurse will apply pressure to the wound and then bandage it. There is usually some residual pain after the procedure. I was achy for about 3-4 days afterwards and the results came through about a week or two later.
Tomorrow we will start talking about blood tests and what they mean!