Bone/Soft Tissue Biopsy

Your doctor has referred you for a bone or soft tissue biopsy. These biopsies are typically performed by image guidance such as by ultrasound or CAT scan. The biopsy is a means of providing a definite answer as to the source of a lesion within a bone, muscle or soft tissue.


Since a biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure, we require that if you are on blood thinners including but not limited to coumadin, plavix or aspirin, that they be temporarily stopped if possible. This is typically done in consultation with the prescribing physician. Pre-procedure lab work will be ordered to test your blood so that we lower the risks of bleeding during the procedure. The risks of a biopsy are different based on the location, but generally include bleeding and infection. These are rare risks and will be explained by the radiologist before the procedure.


The majority of bone and soft tissue biopsies are performed by CAT scan guidance. After explaining the procedure, answering questions and obtaining consent, you are placed on the CAT scan table and a preliminary scan is performed. Using these images, your skin is marked, cleaned and prepped for the procedure. Local anesthesia (lidocaine/novacaine) will then be injected into your skin to provide local pain relief. This is followed by placement of the biopsy needle which will often be advanced slowly while taking more images to ensure correct and safe placement. The biopsy sample is hand-delivered to the pathology department and a result is typically available in 3-5 days.

Based on the location of the biopsy and patient request, these procedures can be performed with conscious sedation which is essentially light anesthesia to provide maximum comfort during the procedure. This is not always necessary and requires extra monitoring during the procedure and a recovery period after the procedure.


After the procedure you may be discharged immediately or remain in the department for a recovery period. This is based on the amount of anesthesia provided and complexity of the biopsy. You may experience pain at the biopsy site which is best treated with ice and over-the-counter pain medication. The results from the biopsy typically take 3-5 days and are sent to the doctor who ordered the test.

You should arrive with a person who can drive you home. The procedure will not be performed if you do not have someone to assist you in getting home safely. Although the risk of infection is very low, if you develop symptoms of redness or swelling at the biopsy site or fever you should call your doctor or the physician who performed the biopsy. 

Exam offered at the following locations:

North Shore University Hospital
North Shore-LIJ Imaging at Great South Bay 

Last Update

April 13, 2011
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