Fine Needle Biopsy
To see an animated version of this procedure, click Procedure InMotion.
DefinitionA biopsy is a procedure to remove a tissue sample. In a fine needle biopsy (FNB), fluid and cells are removed with a thin, hollow needle.
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Reasons for ProcedureThis biopsy is used to evaluate organ or tumor tissue. The sample may show abnormal cells, disease, infection, or inflammation.FNB may also be done to find out how certain treatments are working.
Possible ComplicationsComplications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. The potential complications will depend on the location of the biopsy. Your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
- Bruise where the needle was inserted
- Pain after the procedure
- Medications that increase the risk of bleeding
What to Expect
Prior to ProcedureAsk your doctor if there are any instructions you should follow before the procedure. Depending on the part of the body that the biopsy is being taken from, your doctor may ask you to:
- Arrange for a ride home.
- Have routine blood work.
AnesthesiaLocal anesthesia is often used. It will make the area numb. A sedative may also be used to help you relax.
Description of the ProcedureYour doctor may use images of the inside of your body to help guide the needle. This may be done with an ultrasound, x-ray, or CT scan. You will be positioned for the easiest access to the area for biopsy. The area where the needle will be inserted will be cleaned. Anesthesia will be applied to numb the area. You will be asked to stay still. A thin, hollow needle will then be inserted through the skin to the site. The needle may need to be inserted more than once. The images may be checked to make sure the needle is in the right place. After the needle is in the proper position, tissue or fluid will be withdrawn. You may feel a pinch, pressure, or nothing at all. After the sample is obtained, the needle will be removed. The site will be bandaged.
How Long Will It Take?The length of procedure will depend on the site that is sampled:
- Simple biopsy of a site that is close to the surface of the skin: a few minutes in most cases
- Deeper biopsy or one that is guided by an ultrasound or CT scan: 30-90 minutes
Will It Hurt?The amount of discomfort you feel depends on the part of the body that is being examined. The anesthesia and sedative will prevent pain. You may feel a pinch or pressure. If you feel pain, tell the doctor right away.After the procedure, the site will be tender. Talk to your doctor about medication to help manage discomfort.
Post-procedure CareBe sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. The sample will be examined by a specialist. The results are usually ready in a few days. Your doctor will talk to you about the results.
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