A biopsy is a medical procedure that involves taking a small sample of body tissue so it can be examined under a microscope.
A tissue sample can be taken from almost anywhere on or in your body, including the skin, organs and other structures.
The term “biopsy” is often used to refer to both the act of taking the sample and the tissue sample itself.
WHAT IS A BIOPSY?
A biopsy is a sample of tissue taken from the body in order to examine it more closely. A doctor should recommend a biopsy when an initial test suggests an area of tissue in the body isn’t normal.
Doctors may call an area of abnormal tissue a lesion, a tumor, or a mass. These are general words used to emphasize the unknown nature of the tissue. The suspicious area may be noticed during a physical examination or internally on an imaging test.
WHEN A BIOPSY MAY BE NEEDED?
A biopsy can be used to investigate abnormalities, which can be:
- functional – such as kidney or liver problems
- structural – such as swelling in a particular organ
When the tissue sample is examined under the microscope, abnormal cells may be identified, which can help to diagnose a specific condition.
If a condition has already been diagnosed, a biopsy can also be used to assess its severity (such as the degree of inflammation) and grade (such as the aggressiveness of a cancer).
This information can be very useful when deciding on the most appropriate treatment, and assessing how well a person responds to a particular type of treatment. It can also be useful in helping to determine a person’s overall prognosis (outlook).
EXAMPLES OF CONDITIONS WHERE A BIOPSY MAY BE HELPFUL INCLUDE:
- inflammation, such as in the liver (hepatitis) or kidney (nephritis)
- infection, such as in lymph nodes – for example, tuberculosis
- various skin conditions
It’s not usually possible to tell whether a lump or growth on your skin or inside your body is cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign) by clinical examination alone, which is why a biopsy is often required.
CT/MRI GUIDED BIOPSY:
How a biopsy is carried out will depend on where the tissue sample is being taken from. Before the procedure, CT or MRI scanning is often used as a guide to help with this decision.
After the tissue sample is taken, it will be examined under a microscope to help identify the nature of the problem. This often means that a definite diagnosis can be made.
The type of stains and tests that are used when the tissue is examined under the microscope will depend on the medical condition being investigated.
TYPES OF BIOPSIES:
There are many different kinds of biopsies. Nearly all of them involve using a sharp tool to remove a small amount of tissue. If the biopsy will be on the skin or other sensitive area, numbing medicine is applied first.
HERE ARE SOME TYPES OF BIOPSIES:
- Needle biopsy. Most biopsies are needle biopsies, meaning a needle is used to access the suspicious tissue.
- CT-guided biopsy. A person rests in a CT-scanner; the scanner’s images help doctors determine the exact position of the needle in the targeted tissue.
- Ultrasound-guided biopsy. An ultrasound scanner helps a doctor direct the needle into the lesion.
- Bone biopsy. A bone biopsy is used to look for cancer of the bones. This may be performed via the CT scan technique or by an orthopedic surgeon.
- Bone marrow biopsy. A large needle is used to enter the pelvis bone to collect bone marrow. This detects blood diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma.
- Liver biopsy. A needle is injected into the liver through the skin on the belly, capturing liver tissue.
- Kidney biopsy . Similar to a liver biopsy, a needle is injected through the skin on the back, into the kidney.
- Aspiration biopsy. A needle withdraws material out of a mass. This simple procedure is also called fine-needle aspiration.
- Prostate biopsy. Multiple needle biopsies are taken at one time from the prostate gland. To reach the prostate, a probe is inserted into the rectum.
- Skin biopsy. A punch biopsy is the main biopsy method. It uses a circular blade to get a cylindrical sample of skin tissue.
- Surgical biopsy. Either open or laparoscopic surgery may be necessary to obtain a biopsy of hard-to-reach tissue. Either a piece of tissue or the whole lump of tissue may be removed.
BIOPSIES – OVERVIEW:
A biopsy is the removal of tissue from any part of the body in order to examine it for disease. Some may remove a small tissue sample with a needle while others may surgically remove a suspicious nodule or lump.
Most needle biopsies are performed on an outpatient basis with minimal preparation. Your doctor will give you instructions based on the type of biopsy being performed. Tell your doctor if there’s a possibility you are pregnant. Discuss any medications you’re taking, including aspirin and herbal supplements, and whether you have any allergies – especially to anesthesia. Your physician will advise you to stop taking aspirin or blood thinner three days before your procedure, and you may be told not to eat or drink anything for eight hours beforehand. Leave jewelry at home and wear loose, comfortable clothing. You may be asked to wear a gown.