Bone Marrow Biopsies in the Elderly

A study published in the November 2008 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Pathology examined the usefulness of performing bone marrow biopsies in patients 85 years or older. Researchers from the Department of Pathology at the University of Iowa retrospectively reviewed all bone marrow biopsy cases from January 2002 to December 2006 for patients 85 years or older at the time of biopsy. A total of 119 cases were reviewed. Chart reviews showed that only 20 of 45 patients for whom follow-up information was available received disease-modulating therapy. Of those receiving therapy, 17 patients received abbreviated or modified therapies due to poor therapeutic response or medication intolerance. Therapy failures were reported in all patients.

The authors concluded that because a specific diagnosis was not determined in many cases, few patients received more than supportive therapy following bone marrow biopsy for cytopenias and because of the potential for increased morbidity in this population, a higher threshold for bone marrow biopsy may be indicated in the 85 or older age group. Test..

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