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A biopsy is a test of tissue from the body. A lab will check the sample to see if there is something unusual about it.
Reasons for Procedure TOP
Biopsies look for the cause of:
You may need this done to diagnose or find out more about a problem. It may also be done to find out if there is cancer.
A biopsy can also diagnose:
Possible Complications TOP
Problems are rare, but there is some risk. Problems may be:
Smoking may raise the risk of problems.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about these risks.
What to Expect TOP
Prior to Procedure
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicine.
Do not eat or drink after midnight if you will have general anesthesia.
There are different types of anesthesia. The choice will depend on where the sample is on the body. You may have:
Description of the Procedure TOP
There are many ways to do a biopsy, such as:
How Long Will It Take? TOP
A simple biopsy should only take a few minutes. It will take longer during a surgery.
How Much Will It Hurt? TOP
You may have pain. Ask your doctor about medicine to help with the pain.
Average Hospital Stay TOP
You will be able to go home after a simple biopsy. If you had surgery, you may need to stay for 1-2 days.
Post-procedure Care TOP
Recovery will depend on the location and how much tissue was taken. It may take 2-10 days to get results. Your doctor will talk with you about them. Results may show:
Call Your Doctor TOP
Talk to your doctor if you do not get better or you have problems, such as:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Cancer Society
American College of Surgeons
Canadian Cancer Society
Biopsy. Radiological Society of North America Radiology Info website. Available at:
Schoonjans JM, Brem RF. Fourteen-gauge ultrasonographically guided core-needle biopsy of breast masses. J Ultrasound Med. 2001;20(9):967-972.
6/3/2011 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T905141/Treatment-for-tobacco-use : 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.
Last reviewed March 2018 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
James P. Cornell, MD
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