Information on Reasons, Types, Preparation & Risks Involved In a Bone Biopsy

Submitted on March 27, 2012

What is a Bone Biopsy?

In bone biopsy, a tiny sample of bone is extracted from the body and examined under a microscope to check for infection, cancer or other bone disorders.

Why Is it Done?

Bone biopsy is done to confirm and find out more details of certain problems which show up on X-rays or bone CT scans (Computed Tomography).

  • A bone biopsy can tell whether a bone mass or cyst is cancerous or non-cancerous.
  • Find the cause of a chronic bone infection.
  • Find the cause of chronic bone pain.
  • Find if you are suffering from osteoporosis.

There are two types of bone biopsy - closed biopsy (needle biopsy) and open biopsy. Both are done by specialized doctors or surgeons.

Closed (Needle) Biopsy

In this, you will lie on an examination table while a needle is inserted through the skin into the bone. While you will be awake during the procedure, you will usually be given a local anesthetic or a sedative to block out the pain. The skin, where the bone biopsy needle will be inserted, will be cleaned to prevent infection. The doctor will insert a thin, long bone biopsy needle and take out a small amount of bone through it. The area will then be cleaned and bandaged to stop any bleeding.

The procedure takes between 15 to 30 minutes. You will then rest for a short before being allowed to go.

Open Biopsy

This is a more complex procedure. An incision is made in the skin to expose the bone. A general anesthesia or a nerve block is given before the procedure, and you will be told to stop eating and drinking 2 to 6 hours before the surgery.

After the bone is taken out, the surgeon cleans and stitches up the cut with sutures which are taken out after 14 days. The entire procedure may take 40 to 60 minutes, after which you may have to spend the night at the hospital.

In special cases, where cancer is suspected, a 'frozen section' may be done while you are undergoing open biopsy. This is a special test, where the piece of bone which is taken out, is quickly frozen, thinly sliced and examined under a microscope to check for cancer cells.


How to prepare: Inform your doctor if -

  • You are taking any medicines, especially blood thinners
  • You are allergic to any medicines such as anesthetics
  • You are pregnant.

Risks Involved

Risks: while there are not many risks after the biopsy, inform your doctor if:

  • There is a lot of bleeding in that area
  • There are signs of infection such as redness or swelling
  • There is pus formation
  • You have chills or fever.