Bone Biopsy: What to Expect at Home
A bone biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample of bone is taken from the body and looked at under a microscope for cancer, infection, or other bone disorders. There are two types of bone biopsies: closed (or needle) biopsy and open biopsy. In either case, be sure to have someone drive you home afterwards.
If you had a closed or needle biopsy done in the Diagnostic Imaging department, a needle was inserted through the skin and into the bone. You may go home shortly after the procedure. If you got a sedative, you may need to stay longer. The biopsy site may be sore and tender for up to a week.
If you had an open biopsy, a cut (incision) was made through the skin to expose an area of the bone. You may need to stay in the hospital overnight. The biopsy site may be sore and tender for up to a week.
This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.
How can you care for yourself at home?
- Rest when you feel tired.
- Your doctor may ask you not to do certain activities for a while based on where you had the biopsy and whether it was open or closed.
- Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, you can do your normal activities when you feel ready.
- Be active. Walking is a good choice.
- You can eat your normal diet.
- If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
- Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
- Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
- If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
- If you take any blood thinners (anticoagulants), be sure to talk to your doctor.
- Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. They will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
- You will have a dressing over the biopsy site. A dressing helps the site heal and protects it. Your doctor will tell you how to take care of this.
- If you have strips of tape on the biopsy site, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off.
- If you had stitches, your doctor will tell you when to come back to have them removed.
- Change the bandage every day.
- You may shower 24 to 48 hours after the procedure. Pat the biopsy site dry. Don't swim or take a bath for the first 2 weeks, or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
When should you call for help?
Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:
- You passed out (lost consciousness).
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
- You are bleeding through your dressing. A small amount of blood is normal.
- You have symptoms of infection, such as:
- Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
- Red streaks leading from the biopsy site.
- Pus draining from the site.
- A fever.
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
- Your biopsy site comes open.
- You are not getting better as expected.
Where can you learn more?
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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Adaptation Date: 4/28/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services