Article Text

This article has a correction. Please see:

Download PDFPDF
Utility of bone marrow examination for workup of fever of unknown origin in patients with HIV/AIDS
  1. Andrés E Quesada,
  2. Ashok Tholpady,
  3. Audrey Wanger,
  4. Andy N D Nguyen,
  5. Lei Chen
  1. Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston, Texas, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrés E Quesada, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 6431 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030, USA; Andres.E.Quesada{at}


Aims The utility of bone marrow aspiration and biopsy (BMAB) as a diagnostic tool in patients with HIV/AIDS and fever of unknown origin (FUO) is a subject of debate. Because highly active antiretroviral therapy has reduced incidence of opportunistic infections, it is important to reassess the efficacy of BMAB for this diagnostic purpose. To our knowledge, no such studies have been performed in Harris County which has the highest incidence of HIV in the state of Texas.

Methods We reviewed all BMABs from patients with HIV/AIDS and FUO or persistent cytopenia(s) from 2007 to 2011.

Results Of 57 evaluable patients, BMAB was positive in 24 samples by acid fast bacilli (AFB) or Gomori methenamine silver (GMS) stains (17.5%), presence of granuloma and/or lymphohistiocytic aggregates (31.6%), culture (21.0%) or a combination. Cultures demonstrated Mycobacterium avium/intracellulare (4), M tuberculosis (2), M gordonae (1), Histoplasma capsulatum (3) and Cryptococcus neoformans (2). There were three cases in which a pathogen was grown in culture but that had a negative of ‘direct examination’ on tissue sections (negative AFB and GMS special stains, no morphological evidence of granuloma/lymphohistiocytic infiltrates).

Conclusions This study supports the use of diagnostic BMAB as a rapid decision-making tool in patients with HIV and FUO in the proper clinical setting. BMAB demonstrated infection-related evidence prior to positive bone marrow culture in 75% of cases. Special stains and blood cultures had similar diagnostic yield, but BMAB offers faster results. Thus, this procedure assists in clinical decision making and the refinement of treatment in a more timely manner.

  • HIV

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

  • Correction
    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and Association of Clinical Pathologists