Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
 

Bone Biopsy

Bone Biopsy

(Biopsy-Bone, Bone Lesion Biopsy)

Procedure overview

What is a bone biopsy?

A biopsy is a procedure performed to remove tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope. A bone biopsy is a procedure in which bone samples are removed (with a special biopsy needle or during surgery) to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present. A bone biopsy involves the outer layers of bone, unlike a bone marrow biopsy, which involves the innermost part of the bone.

There are two types of biopsy:

Other related procedures that may be used to help diagnose bone problems include computed tomography (CT scan), X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the bones, and bone scan. Please see these procedures for additional information.

Anatomy of bone
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What is bone?

Bone is living tissue that makes up the body's skeleton. There are three types of bone tissue:

Bone provides shape and support for the body, as well as protection for some organs. Bone also serves as a storage site for minerals and supplies the marrow from which blood cells are developed and then stored.

Reasons for the procedure

Bone biopsies may be performed to:

There may be other reasons for your doctor to recommend a bone biopsy.

Risks of the procedure

As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Some possible complications may include, but are not limited to, the following:

There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to the procedure.

Before the procedure

During the procedure

A bone biopsy may be performed on an outpatient basis or as part of your stay in a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on your condition and your doctor’s practices.

In addition, some biopsies may be done using a local anesthetic to numb the area, while others may be done under general or spinal anesthesia. If spinal anesthesia is used, you will have no feeling from your waist down. Your doctor will discuss this with you in advance.

Generally, a bone biopsy follows this process:

  1. You will be asked to remove clothing and will be given a gown to wear.
  2. An intravenous (IV) line may be started in your arm or hand.
  3. You will be positioned so that the doctor can easily reach the bone that is to be sampled. A belt or strap may be used to hold you in the correct position.
  4. The skin over the biopsy site will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution.
  5. If a local anesthetic is used, you will feel a needle stick when the anesthetic is injected. This may cause a brief stinging sensation. If general anesthesia is used, you will be put to sleep using intravenous medication.
  6. If a local anesthetic is used to numb the area, you will need to lie still during the procedure.
  7. A small incision will be made over the biopsy site and the biopsy needle will be inserted into the bone.
  8. If awake, you may feel discomfort or pressure when the doctor obtains the bone sample.
  9. The biopsy needle will be withdrawn and firm pressure will be applied to the biopsy site for a few minutes, until the bleeding has stopped.
  10. The doctor will close the opening in the skin with stitches or skin adhesive strips, if necessary.
  11. A sterile bandage or dressing will be applied.
  12. The bone sample will be sent to the lab for examination.

After the procedure

Your recovery process will vary depending on the type of anesthesia that is given. You will be taken to the recovery room for observation. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to your hospital room or discharged to your home.

Once you are home, it is important to keep the biopsy area clean and dry. Your doctor will give you specific bathing instructions. If stitches are used, they will be removed during a follow-up office visit. If adhesive strips are used, they should be kept dry and generally will fall off within a few days.

The biopsy site may be tender or sore for several days after the bone biopsy. Take a pain reliever for soreness as recommended by your doctor. Aspirin or certain other pain medications may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medications.

Notify your doctor to report any of the following:

You may resume your usual diet and activities unless your doctor advises you differently. Your doctor may ask you to avoid strenuous physical activity for a few days.

Your doctor may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your particular situation.

Online resources

The content provided here is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. Please consult your health care provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.

This page contains links to other websites with information about this procedure and related health conditions. We hope you find these sites helpful, but please remember we do not control or endorse the information presented on these websites, nor do these sites endorse the information contained here.

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

American Cancer Society

National Cancer Institute (NCI)

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

National Library of Medicine

 

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