What is a biopsy?
A biopsy is the removal of tissue from an area of the body. There are different types of biopsies:
- Percutaneous puncture biopsy – tissue is removed with a very fine needle. The specialist is guided by an x-ray or CT scan
- Open biopsy – this is carried out during surgery in which local or general anaesthesia is used.
- Laparoscopic biopsy - very small incisions are made and then, using a laparoscope (a long thin tube with a high-definition camera and a light at the end), the surgeon is guided to reach the area where the sample should be extracted.
What does a biopsy consist of?
A biopsy consists of the removal of body tissue. Once removed, the biopsy is examined in a laboratory to detect the presence of a medical condition.
Usually, the removal of a small piece of tissue by means of a needle is sufficient, but on other occasions, the surgical removal of a nodule or lump is necessary.
Why is a biopsy performed?
Biopsies are often used to diagnose cancer. However, they can be used to identify other conditions such as infections or autoimmune disorders. They are also carried out to check if the tissue of an organ is eligible for an organ transplant or if the new organ will be rejected.
How should I prepare for a biopsy?
The most common biopsy procedure is the percutaneous puncture. This is often done on an outpatient basis, meaning that the patient will not need to stay in hospital overnight. It also requires very little preparation.
The specialist will inform the patient about the biopsy that will be performed. They will also ask about medications that the patient may be taking along with their medical history. From this, the specialist can prevent any potential allergic reactions.
Usually, the patient is required to not consume any food or drink in the eight hours leading up to the biopsy. Women should advise the specialist of any possibility that they may be pregnant. This is due to some biopsies including procedures that involve radiation, which could be harmful to the foetus.
What does it feel like during a biopsy?
In the case of needle biopsies (percutaneous puncture), the patient will feel a sharp prick where the needle has been inserted. In the case of open or laparoscopic biopsies, the patient will be given anaesthesia to help to alleviate the pain. When a local anaesthetic is given, the patient will feel a slight puncture, although they may only feel pressure at the exact moment the needle penetrates the skin.
Normally, the patient can resume activities as normal within 24 hours of the procedure. In the event that the patient feels excessive pain, the doctor may prescribe some type of medication to relieve it.
What do abnormal biopsy results mean?
Once the sample is obtained, it’s sent to a laboratory for analysis. A pathology specialist will be in charge of examining the tissue and sending the results to the surgeon.
Occasionally, biopsies are not effective. This can occur when the amount of tissue taken from the body is not sufficient. If the biopsy was effective but provides unexpected results, it may then be necessary to perform a surgical biopsy.
What biopsy advancements have been made in recent years?
In recent years, progress has been made with liquid biopsies. In these tests, a blood sample is analysed in order to look for tumour-like cells or pieces of DNA.
These biopsies are used to locate early-stage cancers and are useful for planning treatments, as well as determining the treatment’s potential effectiveness. There are various benefits to liquid biopsies compared to traditional biopsies. These benfits include:
- results are more accurate
- results are obtained quicker
- results can be obtained in a less invasive way
Is much recovery time needed after a biopsy?
Patients won't generally be required to stay in hospital overnight due to the fact that local anaesthetic is the only thing used for the procedure. When a biopsy is performed with the assistance of general anaesthetic, patients will normally be required to stay in hospital overnight. Some patients will need to have stitches or a dressing before they leave the hospital.
Is a biopsy painful?
The majority of biopsies are painless for patients as soon as the anaesthetic starts to kick in. However, this depends on which part of the body the biopsy sample is taken from.
What is the difference between a biopsy and an aspiration?
An aspiration is the removal of a lesion via suction, whereas a biopsy entails the removal and examination of tissue, cells, or fluids. A fine needle aspiration, though, is actually an example of a biopsy that removes cells in an individual's body ia suction through a syringe.11-13-2012 10-26-2023