Bone biopsy in the interventional radiology department

This information is about having a small procedure called a bone biopsy in the interventional radiology (IR) department.

A specialist doctor called an interventional radiologist (IR doctor) does the procedure using guidance from an X-ray machine or CT scanner. The images show the doctor exactly where to put a special biopsy needle for removing a small sample of bone. We then send the bone sample to be tested in a laboratory.

The aim of the information is to help answer some of your questions about having a bone biopsy. It explains:

If you have any more questions or concerns about your procedure, please contact the interventional radiology (IR) department.

What interventional radiologists do

Interventional radiologists (IR doctors) are specialists, who do minimally invasive, image-guided procedures on different parts of the body. They use different imaging machines, such as an X-ray machine or CT scanner, to show them exactly where to go inside the body. This avoids the need for large surgical cuts (incisions).

Biopsies done under X-ray or CT guidance are very safe. This is because the IR doctors can clearly see important structures of the body in real time.

IR doctors work in a team with:

  • specialist IR nurses
  • radiographers, who operate the specialist X-ray equipment

The whole team looks after you before, during and after the biopsy.

Benefits of the procedure

A biopsy can help your doctor to diagnose a bone condition and make sure that you get suitable treatment. Your doctor explains where they want to take a small sample of bone and why.

Risks of the procedure

Complications from a bone biopsy are rare, but the following can happen:

Mild discomfort

There might be mild discomfort (aching) around the area where we put in the needle (the biopsy site). This typically lasts for the first few hours after the procedure.

Any discomfort is usually well controlled with simple painkillers like paracetamol.

Skin or bone infection

There is a very small chance of getting a skin or bone infection. If this happens, we will give you antibiotic treatment.


There is a small risk of bleeding after the biopsy. The biopsy needle is very small. Some medicines and bone tumours or other bone conditions can increase the risk of bleeding after a biopsy.

You need to stay in the interventional radiology (IR) department for at least 4 hours after the procedure. The nurses can then monitor you closely. There may be a small amount of bruising around the biopsy site, but serious bleeding is very rare.

Bone fracture or other injury

There is a very small chance that the biopsy needle may:

  • break (fracture) the bone
  • injure a nerve, blood vessel or organ near the biopsy site

This is rare and may be linked to a bone condition. If this complication happens, your doctor will give you advice and explain if you need any other treatments.

Resource number: 0245/VER5
Last reviewed: April 2024
Next review due: April 2027

A list of sources is available on request.

Trusted Information Creator. Patient Information Forum

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns about a bone biopsy, please contact the interventional radiology (IR) department.


We are open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

If you need urgent medical attention, contact a GP, call 111 or go to your nearest emergency department (A&E).

Pharmacy medicines helpline

If you have any questions or concerns about your medicines, please speak to the staff caring for you.

You can also contact our pharmacy medicines helpline.

Phone: 020 7188 8748, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Email: [email protected]

We aim to respond to emails within 2 working days.

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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