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A biopsy is a procedure in which a small sample is collected from a certain body part to be analyzed and examined under a microscope to diagnose a disease.

More advanced tests can confirm the presence of a sample of tissue culture of viruses or other germs. Usually, a biopsy is used for cancer, but has other uses.


1. Overview
2. The preparation
3. Procedure
4. Diagnosis
5. Types of biopsies
6. When biopsy is needed?
7. Are there any risks and complications?
8. What to expect after a biopsy
9. What happens after the biopsy?

The preparation

Most biopsies do not require any preparation of the person to bear. If it is necessary to harvest a sample of the membrane covering the lungs or gastrointestinal tract, the patient will not eat before at least 12 hours to reduce the risk of vomiting.


The exact procedure varies depending on where the biopsy will be done. Biopsy can be done through the skin (percutaneous) or inside the body in the area that could be a problem. Skin biopsy may be closed or open. In these cases biopsy will be done under local anesthesia, if involved a minor lesion near the surface of skin or general anesthesia, if tissue sampling is difficult. If closed procedure will introduce a special needle through the skin in the biopsy are and will harvest some tissue by suction. This technique requires only local anesthetic.

Internal biopsy requires that the doctor to see a organ or body part from which the tissue will be taken. This will be done using an endoscope (flexible tube that has at one end a camera that will transmit images on a screen when the tube is inserted into the body). The endoscope will penetrate between the body organs and allows the doctor to visualize internal body areas which before discovering this technique only with open surgery. To guide biopsy of certain organs (when using special needles are inserted through the skin directly to the organs) are required computed tomography or ultrasound.


When tissue is removed, it is usually led to a pathological laboratory where it will be covered with wax to avoid damage. The sample is then cut into thin pieces and each will be colored with a special color, so they can be viewed easily. It will then be mounted on a microscope slide.

Pathologist will try to observe normal and abnormal cells. If abnormal cells are present, they will try to establish their evolutionary stage. In some cases, such as during surgery, tissue is examined immediately after being removed. Thus, test results will be available for the surgeon a few minutes after the biopsy was completed. However, in some cases, results may be provided one or two days later.

Types of biopsies

There are many different types of biopsies. Almost all of them involve using a sharp instrument to remove a small amount of tissue. If the biopsy will be done through the skin or other sensitive areas it will involve local anesthesia.

Here are some types of biopsies:

- Fine needle aspiration biopsy – Most biopsies are those which use the needle to collect the suspicious tissue.

- Ultrasound-guided biopsy – ultrasound scan will help the doctor to direct the needle into the lesion for biopsy.
– CT-guided biopsy – In this biopsy’s case, the doctor will make a CT scan in order to obtain some scanner images that help him to determine the exact position of the needle should be inserted.

- Bone biopsy – Bone biopsy is used for bone cancer. This can be performed by CT technique by an orthopedic surgeon.

- Bone marrow biopsy – A larger needle will be inserted into the pelvic bone to collect bone marrow. Through this investigation can detect blood diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma.

- Biopsy of the liver – is injected a needle into the liver through the abdominal skin to remove cells from liver tissue.

- Kidney biopsy – is similar to liver biopsy.

- Prostate biopsy – involves taking several prostate gland biopsy needles. To reach the prostate probe will be inserted through the rectum.

- Percutaneous biopsy (the skin) – This is the main method of biopsy. It uses a circular blade to collect a cylinder skin tissue sample.

- Surgical biopsy – It may be necessary to harvest tissue from the body parts that can get quite difficult.

When is biopsy necessary?

Biopsies are often performed in certain areas of the body because it is difficult to know if a node, for example, is benign (is not cancerous) or malignant (is cancerous). Liver or kidney biopsy can be performed when a body is sick and requires a comprehensive diagnosis before determining appropriate treatment.

Are there any risks and complications?

Biopsy is a relatively simple and safe procedure. In the area where the biopsy will be done might occur a mild pain after anesthesia will end its effect, but the discomfort lasts up to a day or two. Easy bleeding may be present and may occur the under skin discoloration, but they get better pretty quickly. Bleeding and infection may be possible in any proceeding, but are rarely found during the biopsy. Some of the organs can be perforated during the biopsy and surgery may be needed, but this situation could be seen rarely.

What to expect after a biopsy

Biopsies vary greatly depending on how difficult it is to obtain tissue. The medical term for this is “invasive”. A minimally invasive biopsy (eg most of the skin biopsies) can be performed in the doctor’s office, even when the lesion is discovered. It will make local anesthesia and the procedure is almost painless.

Invasive biopsies will be done only in hospital, the department of surgery. It will schedule a special intervention with a local or total anesthesia, and after biopsy will recommend medication to relieve pain and discomfort. Local pain may persist for several days.

What happens after the biopsy?

After the tissue will be collected and preserved it will be provided to a pathologist. Pathologist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing conditions that are based on analysis of various tissue samples. The specialist will examine the sample under a microscope. After he identifies the type of connective tissue cells, form and how they act, in most cases, a pathologist can diagnose a problem.



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