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BackTable / MSK / Podcast / Episode #46

Successful Bone Lesion Biopsies

with Dr. Chris Beck

On this episode of the BackTable MSK podcast, co-hosts Dr. Chris Beck and Dr. Aaron Fritts review the basics of bone lesion biopsy, including patient selection, imaging modalities, and procedural steps.

They begin with summarizing indications for bone lesions, which are most common in the setting of metastatic disease. Patients usually get referred for biopsy when a bone lesion is caught on CT imaging of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis. The doctors emphasize that imaging multiple areas is needed to find the most easily accessible lesion, which is sometimes located within a solid organ, rather than within bone. While PET imaging can be useful for confirmation of sclerotic bone lesions, patients usually cannot receive PET scans without an established cancer diagnosis.

Dr. Beck highlights the fact that lytic lesions with soft tissue components are technically easier to access than sclerotic lesions and result in higher yield. He occasionally uses a soft tissue biopsy needle for these lesions. For sclerotic lesions, he prefers the OnControl or Stryker bone biopsy coaxial systems. With the coaxial system, it can be hard to adjust the biopsy tract after you have already started drilling, but he recommends obtaining multiple cores at different angles of approach. He also advises listeners to choose the shortest needle possible, since this makes it easier to control and image the needle within the lesion.The doctors also discuss biopsy of tricky locations. Sternal lesions carry the risk of lung injury and pneumothorax, so when faced with these, Dr. Beck picks an oblique tract that has a longer trajectory. For lesions located in proximal extremities, he secures the limb to minimize movement.

Next, disc biopsies are discussed. Patients usually present with discitis osteomyelitis from prior back surgery, IV drug use, or idiopathic causes. It is important to distinguish between infection of the disc space versus chronic degenerative disc disease, which can be identified by comparison with prior imaging and lab workup. For the lumbar spine disc biopsy, fluoroscopy is Dr. Beck’s preferred imaging modality, and he reviews imaging landmarks. Dr. Fritts usually biopsies both bone and disc.

Finally, they discuss post-procedural complications to watch for, such as chest x-rays in checking for lung injury and neurological exams to assess for new deficits.

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Stryker Interventional Spine

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Successful Bone Lesion Biopsies with Dr. Chris Beck on the BackTable MSK Podcast)
Ep 46 Successful Bone Lesion Biopsies with Dr. Chris Beck
00:00 / 01:04

BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2024, April 2). Ep. 46 – Successful Bone Lesion Biopsies [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

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Podcast Contributors

Dr. Christopher Beck discusses Successful Bone Lesion Biopsies on the BackTable 46 Podcast

Dr. Christopher Beck

Dr. Chris Beck is a practicing interventional radiologist with Regional Radiology Group in New Orleans.

Dr. Aaron Fritts discusses Successful Bone Lesion Biopsies on the BackTable 46 Podcast

Dr. Aaron Fritts

Dr. Aaron Fritts is a Co-Founder of BackTable and a practicing interventional radiologist in Dallas, Texas.

Show Notes

00:00 - Introduction
03:12 - Referrals and Imaging Techniques for Bone Lesion Biopsy
07:09 - Procedural Steps of Bone Lesion Biopsy
12:32 - Choosing Biopsy Tools
23:22 - Approach to Tricky Biopsy Locations
28:19 - Workup and Indications for Disc Biopsy
32:08 - Fluoroscopy vs. CT for Disc Biopsy
40:15 - Handling Biopsy Samples
48:03 - Post-Procedure Care and Complications


Bone cement: Serious adverse events, some with fatal outcome, associated with the use of bone cements for vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty and sacroplasty include myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest, cerebrovascular accident, pulmonary embolism and cardiac embolism. Although it is rare, some adverse events have been known to occur beyond one year post-operatively. Additional risks exist with the use of bone cement. Please see the IFU for a complete list of potential risks.

Disclaimer: The Materials available on are for informational and educational purposes only and are not a substitute for the professional judgment of a healthcare professional in diagnosing and treating patients. The opinions expressed by participants of the BackTable Podcast belong solely to the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of BackTable.

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