Bone lesion biopsy
A bone lesion biopsy is the removal of a piece of bone or bone marrow for examination.
Bone biopsy; Biopsy - bone
How the test is performed
The health care provider applies a numbing medicine (local anesthetic) to the area, and makes a small (about 1/8 inch) cut in the skin. A special drill needle is usually used. The biopsy needle is pushed and twisted into the bone.
Once the sample is obtained, the needle is twisted out and the sample is sent for examination. Pressure is applied to the site. Once bleeding stops, the site is cleaned and covered with a bandage.
Bone biopsy may also be done under general anesthesia to remove a larger sample. This may allow for immediate surgery to remove the bone if the exam shows that it is cancerous.
How to prepare for the test
You may be told not to drink or eat anything for several hours before the biopsy.
How the test will feel
With a needle biopsy, you may feel moderate discomfort and pressure, even though a local anesthetic is used. You must remain still during the procedure.
After the biopsy, the area may be sore or tender for several days.
Why the test is performed
The most common reasons for bone lesion biopsy are to tell the difference between cancerous and noncancerous bone tumors and to identify other bone problem. It may be performed on people with bone pain and tenderness, particularly if x-ray, CT scan, or other testing reveals a problem.
Normal bone appears as two types: compact and cancellous.
- Compact bone is dense and contains layers of mineral deposits called lamellae.
- Cancellous bone looks porous, with widely spaced mineral deposits, and red and yellow marrow in the center of the bone.
What abnormal results mean
Benign bone tumors include:
Cancerous tumors include:
Abnormal results may also be due to:
What the risks are
- Bone fracture
- Bone infection (osteomyelitis)
- Damage to surrounding tissue
- Excessive bleeding
- Infection near the biopsy area
Note: Some people with bone disorders also have blood clotting disorders, which can increase the risk for bleeding.
Signs of bone infection (one of the most serious risks) include fever, headache, pain with movement, redness and swelling of the tissues around the biopsy site, and drainage of pus from the biopsy site. If these occur, seek immediate medical attention.
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Lorenzo JA, Canalis E, Raisz LG. Metabolic bone disease. In: Kronenberg HM, Melmed S, Polonsky KS, Larsen PR, eds. Williams Textbook of Endocrinology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 28.
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Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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