Needle Biopsy of the Lung and Pleura
(Transthoracic Needle Aspiration; Percutaneous Needle Aspiration)
by Julie J. Martin, MS
A needle biopsy of the lung or pleura is done to remove a sample of lung or pleural tissue, or fluid. Pleura is the lining of the lungs and chest wall. Once the tissue is removed, it will be examined in a lab.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
This procedure is used to diagnose abnormal tissue in or around the lung. Possible reasons for abnormal tissue are:
Possible Complications TOP
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a needle biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Make sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may order:
Leading up to your procedure, do not start taking any new medicines without consulting your doctor.
You may be given pre-procedure medicines for certain conditions (eg, to suppress a cough).
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
Description of the Procedure TOP
Your skin will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. You will be in a seated position, leaning forward, with your arms resting on a table for support. You should remain as still as possible. An ultrasound or CT scan will be used to locate the exact area.
A small cut will be made in your skin. Then, while you hold your breath, the biopsy needle will be inserted through the cut. The needle will be passed between your ribs until it reaches the lung or pleura. Your doctor then withdraws some cells through the biopsy needle. The needle will be withdrawn. Pressure will be put on the site of the incision. When the bleeding stops, a bandage will be applied.
How Long Will It Take? TOP
Between 30-60 minutes
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
Post-procedure Care TOP
At the Care Center
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Ask your doctor when to expect the results of the biopsy.
Call Your Doctor TOP
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Cancer Society
American Lung Association
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Lung Association
Beers MH, Fletcher AJ, Jones TV, et al. The Merck Manual of Medical Information: Second Home Edition . Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories; 2003.
Busick NP, Fretz PC, Galvin JR, et al. Transthoracic needle aspiration biopsy. Virtual Hospital website. Available at: http://www.vh.org . Accessed September 6, 2005.
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Mason RJ. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine . 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2005.
Murray JF, Mason RJ. Murray & Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine . 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2007.
Ost D, et al. Clinical practice. The solitary pulmonary nodule. N Engl J Med . 2003;348:2535.
6/3/2011 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 February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2013