In a biopsy, the physician removes a small piece of tissue from an organ or bone using a small needle. The tissue is then sent to a lab to check for signs of damage or disease.

What To Expect

You will lie on an exam table, and a nurse will insert an intravenous line through which you will be given a sedative. The physician will inject a local anesthetic to numb the area, and will then make a small incision and insert the biopsy needle to retrieve a sample of tissue. In some cases, the physician may use ultrasound or other imaging equipment to help guide the needle to a specific location.

You will need to remain very still during the procedure. You may feel pressure and a dull pain. The entire procedure takes about 20 minutes. After the biopsy, the physician will put a bandage over the incision and ask you to lie in the recovery room for a period of time. The nurse will monitor your vital signs and level of pain.

You will need to arrange for someone to take you home, as you will not be allowed to drive after taking the sedative. You will go directly home and remain in bed (except to use the bathroom) for 4 to 6 hours, depending on your physician’s instructions. You must avoid exertion for the week following the biopsy so that the incision and biopsy site can heal. You can expect a little soreness at the incision site, but this should disappear within a few hours or days. Your physician may recommend that you take Tylenol for pain, but you must not take aspirin or ibuprofen for the first week after the procedure, as these medicines decrease blood clotting, which is crucial for healing.

As with any procedure, a biopsy does have some risks, such as infection, bleeding, and pain, but these complications are rare.

Patient Preparation

Before scheduling your biopsy, your physician will order blood samples to make sure your blood clots properly. Be sure to mention any medications you are taking, especially those that affect blood clotting, like blood thinners. One week before the procedure, you must stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen, Plavix, Coumadin, and anticoagulants.

You must not eat or drink anything for 8 hours before the biopsy. You should plan to arrive at our facility about 30 minutes before the scheduled time of your procedure. Your physician or nurse will tell you whether to take your regular medications during the fasting period and may give you other special instructions.