A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue for laboratory examination.
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 through the syringe into the area being examined. The surgeon uses the needle to remove the tissue sample. Needle biopsies are often done using x-rays (usually CT scan), which guide the surgeon to the appropriate area.
An open biopsy is a surgery that uses general anesthesia. This means you are asleep and pain-free during the procedure. The procedure is done in a hospital operating room. A 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 appropriate 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 generally used to make the procedure pain free.
Why the test is performed
A biopsy are most often done to examine tissue for disease. A biopsy may also be done to match organ tissue before a transplant.
The tissue removed is normal.
What abnormal results mean
Abnormal biopsies mean that the tissue or cells have an unusual structure or condition.
This may mean you have a disease, such as cancer, but it depends on the individual biopsy.
What the risks are
Please see the following list of tests or procedures to obtain more information on why each one is performed, how it is performed, the risks, and normal and abnormal results:
Robert A. Cowles, MD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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