Fine Needle Biopsy

Tissue sampling using a needle which is guided into an abnormality by ultrasound, CT or mammography. Ultrasound is used to guide biopsies of the breast, thyroid, liver and superficial lymph nodes and other accessible structures. CT is used to guide biopsies of the chest, abdomen and pelvis. Some breast biopsies are guided by mammography if the abnormality is not visible on ultrasound.

Please advise us beforehand

If you are on anticoagulants such as Warfarin.

Please advise us if you are, or think you may be, pregnant.

Preparation

No preparation.

Special Precautions

In general, these are very safe techniques and have a very low complication rate. They are the safest way of obtaining a biopsy in most cases.

What happens during the procedure

You will change into a gown and be comfortably positioned so that the area being examined is most accessible.

Scans are taken to locate its exact position. The skin in the area is sterilised with antiseptic, local anaesthetic given, then a needle is guided into the abnormality and a sample taken.

This is repeated 2-4 times until sufficient material is obtained for pathology. More than one sample is needed to avoid sampling error and ensure there is adequate tissue for the pathologist.

How long does it take?

Approx 30 minutes.

After your examination

There can be some discomfort at the biopsy site but it is usually minor and resolves in 3-4 hours. Ice packs for 10 minutes each hour and simple analgesics such as paracetamol can be used if needed.

Your images and report

You will be sent an account by the pathologist or sign an assignment form for the pathologist’s fee for examining the specimen. The pathologist will send their report directly to your doctor within 2-3 days of the biopsy.

It is essential you see your doctor within a few days to get the biopsy result.

Potential Complications | Lung Biopsies

Small air leaks are common from the puncture site and collect around the lung (pneumothorax). These resolve spontaneously over a few days. Rarely, air leakage will cause the lung to collapse and a chest drain may be inserted to drain out the air and allow the lung to re-expand.

Potential Complications | Other Biopsies

Significant bleeding or infection can occur depending on the biopsy site but is rare.