What is a Bone Marrow? Bone Marrow Location, Functions and Types healthcare nt sickcare

What is a Bone Marrow Infection? Bone Marrow Blood Test

Bone marrow is the soft, sponge-like tissue found inside larger bones. Bone marrow produces our blood cells, plays vital roles in immunity and oxygen transport, and has the amazing ability to adapt to the body's needs.

Types of Bone Marrow

There are two main types of bone marrow: red marrow and yellow marrow. Red marrow is made mostly of hematopoietic cells that produce blood cells. Yellow marrow is made up largely of fat cells.

Location of the Bone Marrow

Marrow fills the inside cavity of bones. In adults, red marrow is mainly found in flat bones like the hip bone, sternum, skull, vertebrae, and ribs. Yellow marrow fills the long bones in the arms and legs.

Functions of Bone Marrow

The main function of bone marrow is to produce blood cells including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This process of blood cell formation is called hematopoiesis. Red marrow is where hematopoiesis occurs.

Here are some key points about bone marrow:

  • Composition: Red marrow contains hematopoietic stem cells, which produce three main cell types: white blood cells to fight infection; red blood cells to carry oxygen; and platelets to help to clot. Yellow marrow contains mainly fat cells.
  • Conversions: Yellow marrow can convert back to red marrow when the body needs to produce more blood cells due to things like bleeding or infection. This reversible process helps maintain homeostasis.

What is a Bone Marrow Infection?

An infection that occurs in the bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made. Often caused by bacteria or viruses.

Types of Bone Marrow Infections

Some common types include;
  • Osteomyelitis: bacterial bone infection, often from Staph or Streptococcus
  • Septic arthritis: joint infection spreading to bone
  • Mycobacterial infections: from TB bacteria
  • Fungal infections: ex. histoplasmosis, blastomycosis, coccidioidomycosis

Causes of Bone Marrow Infections

  • Can start by the spread of organisms from elsewhere in the body via the bloodstream
  • Open fractures or surgery on bones can introduce bacteria directly
  • Penetrating bone injuries

Symptoms of Bone Marrow Infections

  • Fever and chills
  • Bone pain
  • Draining wound near infected bone
  • Redness, swelling around area

Risk Factors of Bone Marrow Infections

  • Illnesses causing weakened immune systems
  • Cancer or cancer treatments
  • Intravenous drug use
  • Poor wound care
  • Devices placed in bone like prosthetics

Diagnosis of Bone Marrow Infections

  • Physical exam assessing infected site
  • Blood cultures identifying organism
  • Bone biopsy and cultures
  • Imaging tests like X-ray, CT scan or MRI

Treatment for Bone Marrow Infections

  • Antibiotic medications, often given for prolonged courses intravenously and sometimes in combination
  • Surgery to drain abscess or remove infected, dead bone tissue
  • Antifungal or antiviral meds if fungi or virus causing

Prevention of Bone Marrow Infections

  • Practising good wound care
  • Quickly treating infections elsewhere in the body
  • Careful aseptic technique with surgical or dental procedures involving bone

How to Test for Bone Marrow Infections?

The bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside bones that makes new blood cells. It can get infected by bacteria, viruses or fungi - most commonly in people with weakened immunity. Timely and accurate testing is key for diagnosis and treatment.

If a bone marrow infection is suspected, the following tests may be conducted:

  1. Blood Cultures: Test blood samples to detect presence of infectious organisms and identify them to select targeted antibiotics.
  2. Complete Blood Count (CBC): Checks for anemia or abnormal cells indicating infection. May show elevated white blood cells and platelets.
  3. Inflammatory Markers: CRP, ESR and procalcitonin levels rise due to bone marrow infection.
  4. Bone Marrow Biopsy: Definitive diagnostic test where a marrow sample from hip bone is analysed to confirm infection and characterize it.
  5. Bone Marrow Aspiration: Collects fluid to test for organisms and antibiotic sensitivity. Also checks for leukaemia.

When to Test Those at high risk like cancer/leukaemia patients who develop unexplained fever and chills must consult their doctor promptly regarding bone marrow infection testing. Immunocompromised patients should also immediately test with any suggestive symptoms.

Bone Deep Trouble? The Osteomyelitis

Osteomyelitis is no small matter, it's a bacterial infection of the bone itself. Get vital need-to-know details on this painful and potentially dangerous condition. Learn what puts you at risk for osteomyelitis, how it assaults bone tissue, the cascade of symptoms it unleashes, and how physicians diagnose and treat this infection that can become chronic if not effectively dealt with promptly. Arm yourself with knowledge about the types of bacteria that most commonly cause osteomyelitis, the complex diagnostic steps beyond just an x-ray, and current medical and surgical ways to counter osteomyelitis. This guide breaks down the key facts to understand about infection-ravaged bone, plus the best ways to prevent it. Don't let osteomyelitis catch you off guard and spread out of control.

  • Causes: It is most commonly caused when bacteria reach the bone from a spreading infection or open injury that exposes the bone to contamination. Common culprits include Staphylococcus aureus (including dangerous MRSA strains) and sometimes certain streptococci or gram-negative bacteria.
  • Location: Long bones like the femur, tibia, and humerus are most commonly affected due to the blood supply in these areas, but infection can occur in any bone.
  • Symptoms: Pain in the affected bone is the hallmark symptom. Fever, chills, redness/swelling/drainage of overlying skin, and joint stiffness near the infected areas can also occur.
  • Types: It can be acute, subacute, or chronic. Acute comes on quickly with severe symptoms, while subacute and chronic may begin subtly or seem to resolve before persisting or reoccurring.
  • Diagnosis: Imaging tests like x-ray, MRI, or bone scan can reveal infected bone changes. Blood or bone tissue cultures can identify the bacteria causing infection.
  • Treatment: Typically 4–6 weeks of IV antibiotics. Sometimes antibiotics are delivered directly into the bone in a procedure called antibiotic bead placement. Surgery may be done to remove infected bone tissue.
  • Complications: These include bone/joint destruction, spread of infection to blood or nearby tissues, bone growth problems in children, and sepsis.

What does bone marrow do in the body?

Bone marrow produces stem cells that generate red blood cells carrying oxygen, white blood cells fighting infection, and platelets for blood clotting. It also produces immune cells and stores minerals important for bone health.

What are the two main types of bone marrow?

There is red marrow which is mainly hematopoietic producing new blood cells and platelets. Yellow marrow has more fat cells but can convert to red marrow if the body needs more blood cell production.

Can bone marrow cancers or disorders be treated?

Yes, cancers like leukaemia and myeloma, blood diseases, and low counts conditions can often be treated with chemotherapy, transplantation, growth factors, or other interventions if detected early through lab work like complete blood count.

Is a bone marrow biopsy painful and what does it involve?

It can be uncomfortable briefly since it extracts liquid marrow samples by inserting a needle into the hip bone. Local anaesthesia is generally used to minimize pain from what is otherwise safe outpatient procedure.

How long does it take to recover after a bone marrow biopsy?

Usual recovery takes just 1–2 days of rest with acetaminophen for residual soreness at needle insertion site. Serious risks like infection or bleeding are very rare when performed by haematology specialists.


Special lab tests detect elusive bone marrow infections not showing up on standard blood work. Diagnosing them early prevents serious complications in vulnerable patient groups. Please reach out to our healthcare platform for certified lab testing services as prescribed by your medical provider.

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