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Image-Guided Biopsy

A biopsy is a small sample of tissue or fluid taken from the body. This sample can then be studied in a laboratory. Image-guided biopsy lets your health care provider take a sample from an abnormal mass without surgery. This procedure is done by a general radiologist. It can also be done by a specially trained doctor called an interventional radiologist.

Cross section of skin with needle inserted into mass of tissue. Needle is used to take sample of tissue from inside body.

Before the procedure

Follow any instructions you are given on how to get ready. This includes:

  • Follow any directions you’re given for not eating or drinking before the procedure.

  • Tell your technologist what medicines, herbs, or supplements you take. Also tell the technologist if you are or may be pregnant, or if you are allergic to any medicines.

During the procedure

  • You will change into a hospital gown and lie on an X-ray table. You may lie on your back, front, or side. Your position depends on where the biopsy is to be done.

  • An IV (intravenous) line is started. This is to give you fluids and medicines. You may be given medicine through the IV to help you relax.

  • The skin over the biopsy site is cleaned. Medicine is put on the site to numb the skin.

  • The radiologist will use CT (computed tomography), MRI, X-ray, or ultrasound images as a guide. He or she will put a thin, hollow needle through the skin. He or she will guide it to the area where the biopsy is to be done.

  • The needle is used to take a sample of tissue or fluid from the area. The needle is then taken out. The sample is sent to the pathologist. He or she will look for cells that aren't normal.

Possible risks and complications

Possible risks and complications of the procedure include:

  • Bruising or bleeding at the place where the needle was put in

  • Bleeding inside your body

  • Damage to body areas along the path of the needle

After the procedure

  • You will most likely be able to go home within a few hours.

  • Be sure to have a friend or family member drive you home if you have had sedation. 

  • Care for the insertion site as directed.

Online Medical Reviewer: Fetterman, Anne, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician
Online Medical Reviewer: Pierce-Smith, Daphne, RN, MSN, CCRC
Date Last Reviewed: 12/15/2013
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