Abstract 4743


BMBX procedures are traditionally performed by physicians, NPs, or PAs using a manual method. It is uncommon for nurses to perform these procedures, and even more rare for nurses to perform them using non-traditional techniques, such as the battery-powered system (OnControl, Vidacare, Shavano, TX). In this study, we report our nurse-led BMBX team experience using OnControl to collect diagnostic BMBX samples. Patient care and safety, team satisfaction, and specimen quality were evaluated.


A team of nurses trained to perform BMBX procedures on sedated and non-sedated patients completed 94 procedures using OnControl and established SOPs. All nurses completed a questionnaire aimed at assessing the patient experience during and after the procedure and overall nurse satisfaction with OnControl. Specimen quality was graded by 3 physicians and compared to 25 specimens obtained by the same nursing team using traditional methods. Bone core specimens were graded based on core length and the presence/absence of artifacts. Biopsies had to be >1 cm or >1.5 cm to qualify good or excellent, respectively. Aspirates were similarly evaluated taking into account the presence/absence of spicules on stained smears.

Patient Care & Safety:

The majority (86.2%) of patients who underwent a BMBX procedure during the study were outpatients, and minimal sedation was used in 94.7%. Most patients (76.6%) had a prior BMBX using the traditional method. In 94 patients evaluated, pre-procedure pain was 0 (0-10 scale) in 72 (76.5%) while 21 (22.3%) reported pain up to 5 just before the procedure (avg=2). The post-procedure pain score in the same patients was 0 in 78 (83%) and up to 4 in six (6%) (avg=1). No patients had post-procedure bleeding or complications requiring medical care. Seventy patients were reached 24 hrs post-procedure: 33 (47%) reported no pain and 37 (53%) reported pain up to 8 (avg=2.5).

Nurse BMBX Team Satisfaction:

Team members reported 100% satisfaction with the process of inserting the OnControl biopsy needle through soft tissues and acquiring a core biopsy. The nurses reported having satisfactory control of the depth of needle through the cortex and into the medullary space using the needle guide 95% of the time. Team members were satisfied with the ease of obtaining an aspirate 93% of the time. Nearly all (95%) nurses felt improved ergonomics using the battery-powered driver compared to the manual method. The nurses reported that OnControl was easy to use, with 83% of them obtaining a core biopsy on their first attempt. All nurses indicated they would use OnControl over the manual method if given the choice.

Specimen Quality:

H&E-stained bone core biopsy slides and W-G-stained aspirate smears from 83/94 specimens collected using OnControl were reviewed and graded. All but two (2.4%) of the bone core specimens were adequate for diagnosis. Of adequate samples, 45.8% were excellent, 12% good, and 39.8% fair. Aspiration artifact was seen in 18/83 (21.6%) of cores, and that artifact was the reason for a downgrade to fair quality in 17/18 (94%). Extra aspirate material for research was collected in 7/18 with fair quality bone core biopsies. Similar grading applied to 25 core biopsy samples collected using the manual method revealed 44% of cores to be excellent, 20% good, 32% fair, and 4% poor. The average core length using OnControl and the traditional method was 1.6 cm and 1.7 cm, respectively. Five of 83 (6%) aspirates obtained using OnControl were poor quality due to lack of bone marrow cells. Of the remaining aspirates, 54.2% were excellent, 20.5% good, and 19.2% fair. Factors related to bedside technique caused a downgrade in 10/16 samples graded as fair and 5/17 samples graded as good. Aspirates obtained by the standard method were graded as 52% excellent, 28% good, 12% fair, and 8% poor.


Trained nurses can safely and effectively perform BMBX procedures using traditional methods as well as novel techniques such as the OnControl battery-powered driver system. In the hands of experienced individuals, OnControl can consistently yield high-quality BMBX specimens. Aspiration artifact was the most common flaw found in bone cores obtained with OnControl, but it was usually focal and did not hinder interpretation. When artifact associated with technical aspects out of the control of the BMBX operator was excluded, the OnControl needle produced good-excellent aspirate in 87% of patients.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.