Bone Biopsy

Overview & Description

In this test, a piece of bone is removed for testing in the laboratory. A bone lesion biopsy is taken when osteomyelitis, rickets, or bone cancer is suspected.

How is the test performed?

A bone lesion biopsy may be taken during surgery with the person under general anesthesia. Or, it may be taken with the person under local anesthesia. When a biopsy is taken during surgery, the surgeon cuts through the skin and removes a small sample of bone. When a biopsy is taken under local anesthesia, a hollow needle is inserted into the bone. The needle with the bone sample is removed. The bone samples are then sent to the laboratory for testing. Pressure is applied to the site until bleeding stops.

Preparation & Expectations

What is involved in preparation for the test?

A person should receive specific instructions from his or her doctor.

Results and Values

What do the test results mean?

Normal bone appears as dense, compact bone as found on the outside of the long bones in the arms and legs. Normal bone also appears spongy and porous. This type of bone is found in the center of long bones.

Abnormal bone may result from:

  • a non-cancerous (benign) bone tumor
  • a cancerous (malignant) bone tumor
  • a softening of the bones caused by a deficiency of vitamin D (osteomalacia)
  • a softening of the bones caused by an overactive parathyroid gland (osteitis fibrosa)
  • inflammation of the bone (osteitis)
  • Benign (non-cancerous) tumors include the following:

  • osteoid osteoma
  • osteoblastoma
  • bone cyst
  • fibroma
  • Malignant (cancerous) tumors include the following:

  • multiple myeloma
  • osteosarcoma
  • Ewing’s sarcoma
  • Article type: xmedgeneral