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Image-Guided Biopsy

Closeup of needle inserted into abnormal tissue for biopsy.
A needle is used to take a sample of tissue from inside the body.
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. Image-guided biopsies use ultrasound, X-ray, CT scan, or MRI to determine exactly where to place the needle and perform the biopsy. This procedure is done by a radiologist. It can also be done by a specially trained doctor called an interventional radiologist.

Before your procedure

Tell your health care provider about any health conditions you have and all medicines, herbs, or supplements you are taking. This includes any illegal street drugs and over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Also tell your health care provider if you:

  • Are allergic to any medicines

  • Are pregnant or think you may be pregnant

Follow any directions you are given for not eating or drinking before the procedure. Follow any other instructions from your health care 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 line may be started. This will 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 scan, MRI, X-ray, or ultrasound images as a guide. He or she will put a thin, hollow needle through the skin. It will be guided to the area where the biopsy will be done.

  • The needle will 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.

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. 

  • Care for the insertion site as directed.

Possible risks and complications

Possible risks and complications of an image-guided biopsy include:

  • Bleeding inside your body

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

  • Damage to body areas along the path of the needle

Online Medical Reviewer: Fraser, Marianne, MSN, RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Sudheendra, Deepak, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 10/1/2017
© 2000-2017 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.