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Bone Biopsy

Alternate Names

  • biopsy, bone
  • bone lesion biopsy

Definition

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

How is the test performed?

A bone biopsy may be taken either during surgery under general anesthesia or 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.

What is involved in preparation for the test?

A person should receive specific instructions from his or her healthcare professional.

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 which is an age- and sex-related reduction of the quality of bone (osteoporosis)
  • a softening of the bones caused by an overactive parathyroid gland (osteitis fibrosa)
  • inflammation of the bone (osteitis)
  • a hardening of the bone characterized by increased bone mass (osteopetrosis)
Benign (non-cancerous) tumors include the following:
  • osteoid osteoma
  • osteoblastoma
  • bone cyst
  • fibroma
Malignant (cancerous) bone tumors include the following:
  • multiple myeloma
  • osteosarcoma
  • Ewing's sarcoma

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