Needle Biopsy

What is a needle biopsy?

A needle biopsy is a way to remove a sample of tissue or cells for testing. Your healthcare provider inserts a needle through the skin into a lump, tumor, or organ to get the sample.

The biopsy helps your healthcare provider make a more accurate diagnosis, which will help determine the right treatment for problems you may be having. It will also help your provider to predict the probable course or results of a disease.

There are 2 types of needle biopsy:

  • Fine needle aspiration, which removes cells
  • Core biopsy, which removes a larger amount of tissue

There are specific reasons for using each method. Ask your healthcare provider which type of needle biopsy you will have.

When is it used?

Needle biopsies are used to find the cause of infection or inflammation or to see if a tumor is cancerous.

You may choose not to have this test. Ask your healthcare provider about your choices for treatment and the risks.

How do I prepare for this procedure?

  • Some medicines (like aspirin) may increase your risk of bleeding during or after the procedure. Ask your provider if you need to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Follow any other instructions your provider may give you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what the healthcare provider is going to do and how long it will take you to recover.

What happens during the procedure?

The biopsy may be done at your provider’s office, an outpatient clinic, or the hospital.

You will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area where the needle will be inserted. It should keep you from feeling pain during the biopsy.

Your healthcare provider will insert a needle into the tumor or organ to remove cells or tissue. The needle may have a cutting tip to help remove tissue. The needle will be attached to a syringe and the cells or tissue will be suctioned into the syringe. The cells or tissue will be sent to the lab for tests.

Your provider may use a CT or ultrasound scan to find the exact location of the tumor. A special X-ray method may be used if the area to be biopsied is in the breast. This may make the test more accurate.

Your provider may put a small bandage over the site where the needle went through your skin.

What happens after the procedure?

You may have some swelling or bruising in the area of the biopsy. You will likely have a small scar from the biopsy.

Ask your healthcare provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure and any risks. Some possible risks include:

  • Anesthesia has some risks. Discuss these risks with your healthcare provider.
  • You may have infection or bleeding.

There is risk with every treatment or procedure. Ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2012-08-03
Last reviewed: 2014-03-17
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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