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Bone Biopsy

How It Feels

Closed or needle biopsy

You may feel a brief pinch or sting from the numbing medicine. You may feel pressure or a brief, sharp pain as the needle enters the bone. You may also feel an aching pain or pressure when the bone tissue sample is taken out. After the procedure, the biopsy site may be sore and tender for up to a week. Your doctor will talk to you about pain medicine.

Open biopsy

You will be asleep or the area will be numb so you will not feel any pain. After the biopsy, you may feel sleepy for about 2 hours. The biopsy site may be sore and tender for up to a week. Your doctor will talk to you about pain medicine.

After a bone biopsy

  • If a closed biopsy is done, you may go home shortly after the procedure. If you got a sedative, you may need to stay longer and have someone drive you home.
  • If an open biopsy is done, you may need to stay in the hospital overnight. Arrange to have someone drive you to and from the hospital or clinic.
  • A bandage will be placed over the biopsy site. You may be told to keep the biopsy site covered and dry for 48 hours. A small amount of bleeding from the biopsy site is normal. Ask your doctor how much drainage to expect.

Risks

Problems from a bone biopsy are rare. There is a very small chance that the biopsy needle may break (fracture) the bone or injure a nerve, blood vessel, or organ near the biopsy site. Surgery may be needed to treat the problem.

There is a very small chance for a skin infection or for the bone to become infected (osteomyelitis) or to not heal well. In rare cases, the bone may become weak and break (fracture) at a later time.

If you take a blood-thinning medicine (such as aspirin, clopidogrel, or warfarin) or if you have a bleeding disorder, you may have more chance of bleeding from the biopsy site. Also, some tumors or bone conditions can cause more bleeding after a biopsy. Your doctor will talk to you about getting clotting factors before this biopsy to lower your chance of bleeding.

After the biopsy

Call your doctor immediately if:

  • The biopsy site continues to bleed.
  • You have signs of infection. These signs may include:
    • Increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the affected area.
    • Red streaks spreading from the affected area.
    • Drainage of pus from the area.
    • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, or groin.
    • Fever or chills.

Results

A bone biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of bone is taken from the body and looked at under a microscope for cancer, infection, or other bone disorders. It may take several days to get the results because the bone sample needs to be specially prepared for study.

Bone biopsy
Normal:

The biopsy sample shows normal bone tissue.

Abnormal:

Bone tissue may show signs of infection, cancer, or another bone disorder (including Paget's disease, osteomyelitis, a bone cyst, or a noncancerous [benign] bone growth called an osteoma). The bone tissue may also show osteoporosis or osteomalacia, which means the bones are weak.

Most cancer of the bone spreads (metastasizes) to the bone from another part of the body, such as the breast, lungs, prostate, or other organs. But bone cancer can also start in the bone itself (such as osteosarcoma or Ewing's sarcoma).

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.

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