Bone Biopsy: What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

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, 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?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired.
  • You can do your normal activities when it feels okay to do so.
  • Be active. Walking is a good choice.
  • Your doctor may have you avoid certain activities for a while based on where the biopsy was done and whether it was open or closed.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt.
  • If your bowel movements are not regular right after the procedure, try to avoid constipation and straining. Drink plenty of water. Your doctor may suggest fibre, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • 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 blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.

Incision care

  • 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.
  • Wash the biopsy site daily with warm, soapy water, and pat it dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. They can slow healing.
  • 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 call line 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 call 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 call 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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