Diagnosis of Bone Cancer

The patient's symptoms, a physical examination, blood tests, and imaging tests (e.g., x-ray, CT scan, MRI scan) can suggest an initial diagnosis of bone cancer, but to confirm the diagnosis, a biopsy is performed. In a bone biopsy, a sample of bone tissue is removed using special instruments and is examined under a microscope.

A bone biopsy, which is performed under local or general anesthesia, can be performed in a hospital, surgical center, or physician's office, and usually takes about 30 minutes. To remove a small sample of tissue, a biopsy drill may be used, and to remove a larger sample of tissue, an open biopsy is performed. In some cases, tissue is analyzed immediately to determine if additional surgery is required.

In most cases, patients are able to go home in about 1 hour after a bone biopsy. Complications from the bone biopsy procedure include the following:

  • Bone fracture
  • Damage to surrounding tissue
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Infection
  • Pain

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 11 Sep 2006

Last Modified: 02 Sep 2015