What is a biopsy?

What is a biopsy?

A biopsy involves removing a small piece or sample of living tissue from the body so that it can be examined. This process helps diagnose presence, cause, or extent of a disease.

Why are biopsies done?


Biopsies are conducted mainly to check a suspected cancerous lump, an abnormal tissue a lesion, a tumour, suspicious masse or mole. They are used also to examine the liver and the kidneys. In addition, biopsy is applied to find out whether a condition is getting better or worse, and to help doctors choose the best treatment as well.

Biopsy types

There are various types of biopsies based on the part of the body being examined at. Almost all of biopsies require using a sharp tool or a sort of a needle to remove a small amount of tissue.

Needle biopsy constitutes the majority of biopsies in which a needle is used to access the suspicious tissue. Biopsy is usually performed under local anaesthetic. Sometimes imaging is needed (CT scans, X-rays or ultrasounds) to help guide doctors determine the exact position of the needle in the targeted.

needle biopsy

A bone biopsy is applied, sometimes via the CT scan technique, examine cancer of the bones. In cases of bone marrow biopsy, a large needle is utilised to access the pelvis bone to collect bone marrow. This procedure detects blood diseases such as leukaemia or lymphoma.

Lung Biopsy

ln liver biopsy and kidney biopsy. a needle is inserted through the skin (in the belly or the back area) to capture tissue from the targeted organ.

In prostate biopsy, multiple needle biopsies are taken at one time from the prostate gland. A probe is inserted into the rectum in order to reach the prostate.

Punch Biopsy

Skin or punch biopsy is the main biopsy method in which a circular blade is used to get a cylindrical sample of skin tissue.

Aspiration biopsy is done to withdraw material out of a mass. Also employing a needle, this simple procedure is also called fine-needle aspiration.

Surgical biopsies are procedures sometimes needed in either open or laparoscopic surgery. These are applied to obtain a hard-to-reach tissue.

How to prepare for a biopsy?

Biopsy Preparation

The patient must ask the doctor if it’s necessary to prepare in any way. The patient might be asked to fast for a period of time before certain biopsies. Based on the type of biopsy, the doctor may ask for a blood test. He may also ask the patient to stop taking certain medicines for a few days beforehand.

What happens after a biopsy?

Apart from possible bruise and sore feeling, no serious side effects come up after a biopsy. Based on the type of anaesthesia used, the patient might not be able to drive home afterwards. In uncommon situations, the patient might encounter bleeding or infection where the biopsy was taken. It is quite unlikely that the biopsy injure the targeted organs. If there are any suspicious symptoms after a biopsy, the patient should talk to the doctor immediately. The biopsy results are usually available in a few days after the procedure.


myVMC (Liver biopsy)Department of Health WA (Lung or chest needle biopsy – fine needle aspiration)Cancer Council Australia (Diagnostics tests for breast cancer – biopsy)myVMC (Core Biopsy)Cancer Council NSW (Skin biopsy)

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