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Image-Guided Biopsy

A biopsy is a small sample of tissue or fluid taken from your body. This sample is then studied in a lab. Image-guided biopsy lets your health care provider take a sample from an abnormal mass without using 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 your procedure

Tell your health care provider about any medicines, herbs, or supplements you are taking. This includes any over-the-counter medicines such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Also tell your provider if you:

  • Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant

  • Are allergic to any medicines

 Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before the procedure. Follow any other instructions from your provider.

During your procedure

  • You will change into a hospital gown and lie on a special table. The table that is used will depend on the type of imaging that will guide the biopsy. You may lie on your back, front, or side. Your position depends on where the biopsy is to be done.

  • An IV (intravenous) line may be 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 a lab. It will be checked for cells that aren't normal.

Possible risks and complications

Possible risks and complications of an image-guided biopsy 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 your procedure

  • You will most likely be able to go home in 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: Grossman, Neil, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 6/11/2015
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