Improving the quality of bone marrow assessment

Impact of operator techniques and use of a specimen preparation checklist




Successful bone marrow assessment is essential to the diagnosis and staging of hematologic malignancies. The objective of this study was to determine whether specific operator techniques and/or use of a specimen preparation checklist could impact the quality of bone marrow assessment by reducing the frequency of nonspicular aspirates, small cores, and nondiagnostic samples.


All bone marrow biopsies performed at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute from April, 2012 to September, 2012 were eligible for inclusion. Six operator techniques were linked with specimen quality in a preintervention cohort. Next, a specimen preparation checklist was implemented, and outcomes were compared from the preintervention and postintervention cohorts.


In total, 830 procedures performed by 41 operators were prospectively observed and analyzed. In the preintervention cohort (n = 413), no operator technique was associated with specimen quality in multivariable models accounting for patient characteristics and operator. Compared with the preintervention cohort, in multivariable analyses, the postintervention cohort (n = 417) had decreased odds of nondiagnostic specimens (odds ratio, 0.49; 95% confidence interval, 0.28-0.87; P = .01) and core lengths ≤1 cm (odds ratio, 0.67; 95% confidence interval, 0.50-0.90; P = .009), but there was no significant difference in spicularity.


Variation in the operator techniques studied did not have an impact on specimen quality, but implementation of a specimen preparation checklist significantly improved core length and frequency of diagnostic samples. Cancer 2013;119:3472–3478.. © 2013 American Cancer Society.