Table of Contents:

  1. What is a biopsy?
  2. What is a biopsy?
  3. Why is a biopsy performed?
  4. How is the preparation for the biopsy?
  5. What does the test feel like?
  6. What do biopsy results mean?
  7. Are there alternative approaches to a biopsy?

What is a biopsy?

A biopsy is primarily the removal of tissue from some part of the body to be examined in a laboratory for the presence or absence of disease. There are different types of biopsies

  • Percutaneous needle biopsy: tissue is removed through a syringe. Needle biopsies are performed using X-rays or CT scans.
  • Open biopsy: performed during surgery using local or general anesthesia.
  • Laparoscopic biopsy: very small incisions are made and through a laparoscope the surgeon is guided to reach the area where the sample must be extracted.

What does a biopsy consist of?

A biopsy consists mainly in the extraction of tissue to check if there is a disease in it.

Biopsies are usually done to diagnose cancer, although they can identify other problems such as infections or autoimmune disorders. They are also performed to check if the tissue of an organ is compatible with a transplant, looking for possible signs of rejection in them.

Why is a biopsy performed?

Biopsies are usually performed to examine the possible presence of a disease in a patient’s body. Usually the removal of a small amount of tissue with a needle is sufficient, although on other occasions it is necessary to surgically remove a nodule or lump.

Preparation for a biopsy

Most of the biopsies performed are percutaneous puncture biopsies, that is, through a needle. Most of these are done on an outpatient basis with little or no preparation.

The specialist will inform the patient about the biopsy to be performed. The specialist should be aware of any possible medication the patient is taking and his or her medical history, in order to prevent possible allergies.

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Normally the patient does not eat or drink for eight hours prior to the biopsy.

Women should tell the specialist if there is any possibility that she is pregnant, since some of the biopsies use procedures involving radiation that could end up being harmful to the fetus.

A biopsy is the removal of tissue to check for disease.
whether a disease is present in the tissue.

What does the test feel like?

In the case of syringe biposies, 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 helped with anesthesia to mitigate the pain.

At the moment the local anesthetic is administered, the patient will feel a slight pinch, although pressure may be felt at the moment the needle penetrates the skin.

The postoperative indications are variable, but usually within 24 hours of the procedure and can perform normal life. In the event that the patient is in excessive pain, the physician may prescribe some type of pain relief medication.

Significance of abnormal results

Once the sample is obtained, it is sent to a laboratory for analysis. A pathology specialist will examine the tissue and send the results to the surgeon.

Occasionally, biopsies are not effective. For example, in cases where the amount of tissue obtained is not sufficient. This is common in cases of lymphoma diagnosis.

In the event that a biopsy is performed correctly but does not provide the expected results, it may be necessary to perform a surgical biopsy.

Advances in biopsies

In recent years, advances have been made in so-called liquid biopsies. In these tests, a blood sample is analyzed to look for cancerous tumor cells or pieces of DNA.

These biopsies are used to locate cancer at an early stage, and are useful for planning treatment, as well as determining its possible efficacy.

Liquid biopsy provides more accurate and faster results than traditional biopsy in a less invasive way.