Science & Medicine


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  by Barbara BeckmanYou remember Barbara Beckman from her article Clinical Trial a few months ago. She was on the original Ruxolitinib clinical trial and is making history, her strong and enduring recovery discussed at the current American Society of Hematologists meeting this week. A patient of Dr. Verstovsek she returned from her M.D. Anderson checkup with a tale of painless bone marrow biopsy. Coming from one who should know, this good news just had to be passed on.

— Editors

How would you like to have a bone marrow biopsy with very little pain?

The newest innovation is a small drill—smaller than your hand—about six inches long. It looks like a regular drill. The one my P.A. used was orange, set in a black holder.

The procedure goes like this. I walk in the room with Rodney, who is the best! He asks me if I would like to have him use something new that has worked out well with techs and patients. I sign the paper giving him permission to use it. I would do anything to escape pain! I thought I was calm, but my blood pressure was up to 176. I ask him to wait a couple of minutes for the lidocaine to take effect. I lie on the table, on my stomach, with my upper hip exposed.

He starts the procedure. The drill sounds like a dentist’s drill. He says he only has to go in once to do both the aspirate and the bone. I feel pain twice, but it is mild. It is over.

As he is applying the bandage, I ask him what type of education he has to have to qualify for this. He says he is a Physician’s Assistant and has a Masters Degree, but the main qualification is to be good with your hands. My blood pressure has gone down 40 degrees. When Rodney walks out of the room, I ask his assistant to show me the drill. I am amused at how small it is—a replica of my husband’s drill. I am able to walk casually out of the room to go to lunch.

Just to establish my credentials—I have had 13 BMBs , with varying degrees of pain. With two of them, done by the same person, the pain was intense. I try to think of myself as brave, but I was left crying during these procedures. I had to be assisted out of the room to a chair because I was shaking so hard. All the others were much better, with pain but pain that I could endure. Don’t be afraid to ask the receptionist to give you someone who is good. It makes all the difference!

Note: Vanessa, the supervisor at MDAC’s Bone Marrow clinic confirms. It’s more the person who knows how to do a BMB than the tool…and Rodney is one of the best. The tool is the FDA approved Vidacare OnControl bone marrow system, released last year and available in “about 100 sites” now.
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© Barbara Beckman and, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Barbara Beckman and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Contents: January 2012: (Click on RED link )

Articles:…Marty’s Stem Cell Transplant …..My Robert ….Sevy’s Ride … ..Manuela’s Journey……Drop the “D” Crisis in MPN Care….Nearly Painless BMB….News Briefs .

Columns: The Empowered Patient ….The Long and Winding Road..:..Jeremy’s MPN Life :… Body-Mind-Spirit and Prayer .
Arch’s Corner

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Raise your voice in the Forum, COMMENTS box after each article.

Comments on: "Drill" (1)

  1. Michel Durand said:

    This is interesting Barbara, I have had my worst bmb at MDAnderson. There were two of them, obviously not using GPS, trying to find their way, asking around from strangers, taking their time. An agonizing, vicious pain. Then my hem/onc did a fourth bmb with absolutely no pain, I wanted him to do it again, for the next one.
    At the first bmb with him, I yelled, thinking that it might help with the pain 10/10, it didn’t, so the next one I kept my mouth shut, I thought I sounded like a grown-up.

    Michel amm 05

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