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Endometrial Biopsy

(Biopsy, Endometrial)

Click here to view an animated version of this procedure.

Definition  ^

This is a procedure to remove a tissue sample from the lining of the uterus (womb).

The Endometrium
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Reasons for Procedure  ^

An endometrial biopsy may be done to:

  • Evaluate the cause of bleeding in postmenopausal women
  • Evaluate heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between menstrual periods
  • Obtain a tissue sample to test for cancer or precancerous conditions
  • Monitor the uterine lining in women on estrogen replacement therapy
  • Help evaluate the cause of infertility or repeated miscarriages

Possible Complications  ^

If you are planning to have an endometrial biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Damage to the uterus (rare)

Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:

Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure. If you are pregnant, the test cannot be done.

What to Expect  ^

Prior to Procedure

You may need to schedule the biopsy for a certain time during your menstrual cycle.

Your doctor may do the following:

  • Physical and pelvic exam
  • Blood tests
  • Urine test

Leading up to your procedure, you may be advised to:

  • Take a pain reliever one hour before the procedure
  • Wear or bring a sanitary pad

Anesthesia

Usually none is needed. Sometimes local anesthesia is used to numb the cervix.

Description of the Procedure

A speculum will be used to look into the vagina. An instrument called a tenaculum will be used to grasp the cervix. A flexible, thin, suction tube will be passed through the vagina and into the uterus. A small sample of endometrial tissue will be suctioned out.

Immediately After Procedure

After the biopsy, you may feel lightheaded. Lying down for 5-10 minutes will help. When you feel better, you will be able to go home.

How Long Will It Take?

About 10-15 minutes

Will It Hurt?

You may feel some cramping and pressure during the biopsy. Your doctor may give you pain medication after the procedure.

Post-procedure Care

When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:

  • Expect some cramping and bleeding. Use sanitary napkins. Do not use tampons.
  • Ask your doctor when you can resume:
    • Using tampons
    • Having sex
  • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.

Your doctor will receive results in about a week. She will work with you to create a treatment plan.

Call Your Doctor  ^

After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:

  • Excessive bleeding (more than your normal menstrual period or saturating a pad within one hour)
  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Severe pain
  • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

RESOURCES:

American Cancer Society
http://www.cancer.org

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
http://www.acog.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Women's Health Matters
http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca

REFERENCES:

Abnormal uterine bleeding. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/abnormal-uterine-bleeding.html. Updated February 2014. Accessed October 30, 2014.

Endometrial cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/endometrialcancer/index. Accessed October 30, 2014.

6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ : Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.

Last reviewed December 2014 by Andrea Chisholm, MDLast Updated: 12/20/2014