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A spine 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. The sample of bone can be removed by:

• Inserting a needle through the skin and directly into the spine (closed or needle biopsy ). A numbing medicine (local anesthetic) is used to prevent pain during this procedure. Intravenous (IV) pain medicine and a sedative medicine also may be given.

• Making a cut (incision) through the skin to expose an area of the spine (open biopsy ). General anesthesia or medicine to block feeling in the area where the cut is made (spinal anesthesia or a nerve block) is given for this procedure.

A bone biopsy can be taken from any bone in the body. It is easiest to get the biopsy samples from bones that are close to the skin surface and away from any internal organs or large blood vessels.

A spine biopsy is often done on bone areas that show problems on an X-ray. Computed tomography (CT scan) or a bone scan may be used to guide the biopsy needle.