Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Bone Biopsy

How It Is Done

Closed or needle biopsy

A closed or needle biopsy is done in a hospital or clinic by a doctor who specializes in X-ray tests (radiologist) or by a surgeon who specializes in conditions of the bone (orthopedic surgeon).

During the biopsy, you lay on an examining table or firm bed. It is important to lie very still during the entire procedure. Tell your doctor if you need to move or get more comfortable. You may feel pressure or discomfort during the biopsy. A needle biopsy takes 15 to 30 minutes.

  • Before a needle biopsy, an intravenous (IV) line may be put into a vein in your arm. You may be given a sedative to help you relax. You will be awake during the biopsy.
  • Your doctor uses a special soap to clean the skin over the bone where the biopsy sample will be taken. The skin area may need to be shaved. Then your doctor gives you a numbing medicine (local anesthetic) in your skin.
  • The radiologist or surgeon puts a long, thin needle through the skin into the bone. Your doctor may make a small cut in your skin before putting the needle in so the needle passes easily. Then your doctor takes out a small amount of bone through the needle.
  • After a closed or needle biopsy, a small bandage is placed over the area and pressure is put on the area to stop any bleeding. After bleeding has stopped, medicine to prevent infection (topical antiseptic medicine) may be put on the skin. A clean bandage is put on the area.
  • You will stay for a short time after the biopsy until your doctor says it is okay for you to go.

Open biopsy

An open biopsy is done in an operating room by a surgeon. During the biopsy, you lay on an operating bed. An open biopsy takes 30 to 60 minutes.

  • Before an open biopsy, you will be given general anesthesia or medicine to block feeling in the area where the skin cut is made. You will have an intravenous (IV) line in a vein in your arm for medicines and fluids. Before making a skin cut, your surgeon uses a special soap to clean the skin over the bone where the biopsy sample will be taken. The area may need to be shaved.
  • The surgeon makes a cut to see the bone and take out a small piece.
  • After an open biopsy, the cut is cleaned and closed with stitches (sutures). A bandage is put on the area. The stitches are taken out about 14 days after the biopsy.
  • You may need to stay overnight in the hospital after an open biopsy is done.

In rare cases a special test of your bone tissue (frozen section) is done while you are having an open biopsy. The bone taken for a frozen section is quickly frozen, thinly sliced, and looked at under a microscope. If cancer cells are seen, your surgeon may take out some more of the bone during the procedure.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 04, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

Today on WebMD

Building a Support System
Blog
cancer fighting foods
SLIDESHOW
 
precancerous lesions slideshow
SLIDESHOW
quit smoking tips
SLIDESHOW
 
Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
Blog
what is your cancer risk
HEALTH CHECK
 
colorectal cancer treatment advances
Video
breast cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
prostate cancer overview
SLIDESHOW
lung cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
 
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
SLIDESHOW
Actor Michael Douglas
Article