HF 5208

Pre-Stem Cell Transplant Tests and Visits

This handout talks about each test or visit. These tests help us to know if your body is ready for transplant. They also help us to compare any changes that may occur after the transplant. You may need all or some of these tests. Please talk to us about any questions or concerns you may have.

Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy

A small sample of bone (usually the hip bone) and bone marrow, which is liquid, is removed using a needle. You will need to lie on your stomach. We will clean your skin and then numb the skin and the top of the bone. You may be given some medicine to help you relax. You will need to lie flat on your back for at least 15 minutes after the test. Refer to HFFY#4458, Bone Marrow Biopsy. . 

Lab Tests

Many blood samples will be drawn, some which will show what viruses you have been exposed to. Some of the blood tests will be for Hepatitis and HIV, which is the virus that can cause AIDS. The blood can be drawn from a central catheter if you have one. An IV can be placed and then used throughout the day for other tests. You will also need to give a urine sample. For women, we may need to do a pregnancy test.

Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT Scan)

Special X-rays are taken of the inside of your body.  You will not eat or drink for about 4 hours before the test. Once you check in, you will be given contrast dye either by drinking it, through an IV or both. The dye helps to locate tumors or other areas of concern. A machine circles around your head and body taking X-rays. This test is about an hour long. You may have loose bowels for a day. You should drink about two quarts of fluids such as juice or water, for the next two days, to flush the dye from your body. Refer to HFFY #4351, CT/CAT Scan.

PET Scan

A PET/CT scan is a camera that can take pictures of the inside of your body by sensing a radioactive tracer. For most scans, this tracer is a radioactive glucose (sugar). Before your PET/CT, you will have an IV injection of a small amount of the tracer. Cells in your body will absorb glucose at different rates. The PET/CT scan can measure how much of this glucose is being used. This measures how active the cells are. It can tell doctors how a disease is responding to treatment. Your doctor will talk about the results once the scan is complete. Refer to HFFY #5599, PET/CT Scan.

Echocardiogram (ECHO)

Sound waves are used to take pictures of your heart. A cool, jelly-like substance is spread on your chest. Then a paddle is moved across your chest to make a picture on the screen. The test takes about thirty minutes. 

Electrocardiogram (EKG/ECG)

The EKG measures the electrical activity in the body that causes the heart to pump blood. This test takes about 15-30 minutes. 

Lumbar Puncture (LP)

A thin needle is placed between the bones of the spine low in the back near the sacral area (above the tailbone). Fluid surrounds the spinal cord and brain. This fluid is called cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). Sometimes cancer cells can get into the fluid so a small amount is taken and sent to the lab to look for cancer cells. Chemotherapy may be given into the fluid if cancer cells are found. The lumbar puncture takes about 2-3 minutes.. You will have to lie flat for at least one hour afterwards.

Dental Evaluation

You should have a dental exam and cleaning within 3 months before the transplant. Your dentist may order X-rays. If any infection or decay is present these problems should be fixed before the transplant.

Pulmonary Function Tests

This test will measure the volume of air you inhale and exhale while you sit in a plastic booth. These tests will tell how well your lungs work. If you smoke, your lungs will not work as well as they should. You will have to stop smoking before the transplant. You may have some blood drawn from an artery. This blood sample is also a measure of how well your lungs work. If you are on a blood thinner, or have a low platelet count, you may not be able to have the arterial blood drawn.

Skeletal Survey

This is a series of X-rays of your bones. You will stand in front of the X-ray machine as it takes pictures of your arms, legs, and trunk. The doctor will review the pictures for disease.

Social Work

Patients meet with a social worker before transplant to discuss practical, financial and emotional needs. Social workers can assist with or make a referral in regard to disability, financial needs, and advanced care planning.

Health Psychology

Patients may meet with a health psychologist before transplant. They will talk to you to see how you are coping with the upcoming transplant and your understanding of it. They will also talk to you about your support system.

Palliative Care

A nurse practitioner may meet with you and your caregiver/family to discuss ways to improve your quality of life. They will also help patients understand their choices for medical treatment.


You will meet with a pharmacist to review your medicines.