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
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
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 medications without consulting your doctor.
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to 1 week before the procedure.
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 The needle will be withdrawn.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
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
Post-procedure Care TOP
At the Care Center
Your activity may be restricted for up to 1 week. Follow your doctor's instructions.
Call Your Doctor TOP
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occurs, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Canadian Cancer Society
The Lung Association
Ost D, Fein A, et al. Clinical practice. The solitary pulmonary nodule. N Engl J Med. 2003;348:2535.
Pleural biopsy. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed February 19, 2016.
Transthoracic needle biopsy. The Merck Manual Professional Edition website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated September 2013. Accessed February 19, 2016.
6/3/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com : Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed February 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2013
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