Bone Marrow Aspiration in Ferrets (Disease Investigation & Management - Treatment and Care)

Summary Information

Type of technique Health & Management / Disease Investigation & Management / Techniques:
Synonyms and Keywords  
  • Bone marrow may be collected from the proximal femur, proximal humerus, or iliac crest. (B602.2.w2, P120.2006.w6)
From the proximal femur:
  • Anaesthetise the ferret. (B602.2.w2, J29.6.w3, P120.2006.w6)
  • Place the ferret in lateral recumbency. (B232.17.w17, B602.2.w2)
  • Shave and aseptically prepare the area over the proximal femur. (B602.2.w2, B660.34.w34, J29.6.w3, P120.2006.w6)
  • Make a small incision over the greater trochanter, using a No 15 scalpel blade. (B602.2.w2, B660.34.w34, P120.2006.w6)
    • Over the femur just medial to the greater trochanter. (B232.17.w17)
  • Hold the femur with one hand to stabilise it. (B602.2.w2, B660.34.w34)
  • Insert a 20-gauge 1.5 inch spinal needle into the bone, just medial to the greater trochanter. (B602.2.w2, B232.17.w17, B660.34.w34, P120.2006.w6)
    • 22-gauge to 20-gauge. (J29.6.w3)
    • Either a spinal needle or a normal hypodermic needle can be used. (J29.6.w3)
  • Advance the needle with steady pressure while rotating the needle in both directions alternately. (B602.2.w2, B232.17.w17, B660.34.w34)
  • Remove the stylet, attach a 6-12 mL syringe and apply vigorous aspiration (suction), stopping as soon as the sample becomes visible (this minimises blood contamination). (B602.2.w2, B232.17.w17, B660.34.w34)
  • Or: Advance the needle with steady pressure while rotating and aspirating on a 6-12 mL syringe attached to the needle. (J29.6.w3, P120.2006.w6)
    • Apply vigorous suction on the syringe. (J29.6.w3)
  • Or: For a core biopsy, use an 18-gauge, 1.5 inch hypodermic needle. (B602.2.w2, B660.34.w34)
  • Expel the sample collected onto clean glass slides. (P120.2006.w6)
    • Using pressure from the syringe, expel the bone marrow sample onto several glass slides. (B602.2.w2)
    • Hold the slides vertically and allow any excess blood to drain away. (B602.2.w2)
  • Gently "squash prep" the samples ready for cytological examination. (P120.2006.w6)
    • Place a clean glass slide on top of a slide holding a sample. (B602.2.w2)
    • Let the bone marrow spread between the slides. (B602.2.w2)
    • Draw the slides apart horizontally. (B602.2.w2)
Appropriate Use (?)
  • In the diagnosis of anaemia, thrombocytopaenia, pancytopaenia, suspected haematopoitic malignancies or proliferative abnormalities. (B602.2.w2)
  • To evaluate prior to chemotherapy. (J29.6.w3)
  • Bone marrow evaluation should be carried out in any ferret with PCV under 35% and decreasing on serial testing. (B660.32.w32)
Notes --
Complications/ Limitations / Risk
  • Must be carried out with the ferret anaesthetised. (J29.6.w3)
  • If taking both an aspirate and a core biopsy, take the aspirate first, to avoid clotting of the aspirate which may occur when tissue thrombin is released due to the bone marrow disturbance. (B660.34.w34)
Equipment / Chemicals required and Suppliers
  • 20-gauge 1.5 inch spinal needle. (B602.2.w2, B660.34.w34, P120.2006.w6)
    • 22-gauge to 20-gauge. (J29.6.w3)
  • 6-12 mL syringe for aspiration (B660.34.w34, J29.6.w3, P120.2006.w6)
  • 18-gauge, 1.5 inch hypodermic needle for a core biopsy. (B602.2.w2, B660.34.w34)
Expertise level / Ease of Use
  • This procedure should only be carried out by an individual with appropriate clinical training and practical experience.
Cost/ Availability
  • The costs include those of anaesthesia, personnel time, consumables, and testing of the sample.
Legal and Ethical Considerations In some countries there may be legislation restricting the use of this type of technique to licensed veterinarians. For example in the UK: "The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966 (Section 19) provides, subject to a number of exceptions, that only registered members of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons may practice veterinary surgery." (see: LCofC1 - RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct 2000 - Treatment of Animals by Non-Veterinary Surgeons).
Author Debra Bourne MA VetMB PhD MRCVS (V.w5)
References B602.2.w2, B232.17.w17, B660.34.w34, J29.6.w3, P120.2006.w6

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