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A bone biopsy is a procedure in which bone samples are removed (with a special biopsy needle or during surgery) to find out if cancer or other abnormal cells are present.

A bone biopsy involves the outer layers of bone, unlike a bone marrow biopsy, which involves the innermost part of the bone. 

 There are 2 types of biopsy: 

  • Needle biopsy under local anesthesia
  • Open biopsy under general anesthesia 

Other related procedures that may be used to help diagnose bone problems include CT scan, X-ray, MRI of the bones, and bone scan. 


  • Evaluate bone pain or tenderness
  • Investigate an abnormality seen on X-ray
  • Find out if a bone tumor is cancer (malignant) or not cancer (benign)
  • Find the cause of an unexplained infection or inflammation 

Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend a bone biopsy.

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