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Biopsy

Definition

A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue for laboratory examination.

Alternative Names

Tissue sampling

How the test is performed

There are several different types of biopsies.

A needle (percutaneous) biopsy removes tissue using a hollow tube called a syringe. A needle is passed several times through the tissue being examined. The surgeon uses the needle to remove the tissue sample. Needle biopsies are often done using x-rays (usually CT scan or ultrasound), which guide the surgeon to the right area.

An open biopsy is a surgical procedure that uses local or general anesthesia. This means you are relaxed (sedated) or asleep and pain-free during the procedure. The procedure is done in a hospital operating room. The surgeon makes a cut into the affected area, and the tissue is removed.

Closed biopsy uses a much smaller surgical cut than open biopsy. A small cut is made so that a camera-like instrument can be inserted. This instrument helps guide the surgeon to the right place to take the sample.

How to prepare for the test

Ask your health care provider if you need to stop taking any medications before surgery, particularly those that can make you bleed. Such medications include aspirin, Coumadin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs).

Also mention any herbal preparations you are taking. Never stop or change your medications without first talking to your health care provider.

How the test will feel

In a needle biopsy, you will feel a small sharp pinch at the site of the biopsy. In an open or closed biopsy, local or general anesthesia is often used to make the procedure pain-free.

Why the test is performed

A biopsy is most often done to examine tissue for disease.

Normal Values

The tissue removed is normal.

What abnormal results mean

An abnormal biopsy means that the tissue or cells have an unusual structure, shape, size, or condition.

This may mean you have a disease, such as cancer, but it depends on your biopsy.

What the risks are

  • Bleeding
  • Infection

Special considerations

Please see the following list of tests or procedures to get more information on why each one is performed, how it is performed, the risks, and normal and abnormal results:


Review Date: 11/1/2010
Reviewed By: Shabir Bhimji MD, PhD, Specializing in General Surgery, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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