Biopsy is a procedure of extracting cells or tissues for detailed examination and diagnosis. It is a minimally invasive procedure that is performed by a specialist who is often a radiologist or surgeon.
A biopsy can be performed to diagnose the following conditions:
- Inflammatory conditions
- Immunity disorders
- lymphoproliferative disorders
A biopsy can be done on any part of the body. A biopsy is suggested when there is some abnormality of tissues like inflammation, ulcers, swelling, pigmentation, growths or cysts.
How is a biopsy performed?
A biopsy is a comparatively simple and noninvasive procedure as compared to typical surgeries.
A noninvasive type of biopsy can be performed in a clinic on an outpatient basis. In the case of breast cancer diagnosis, needle biopsies are done in cancer institutions without sedatives. The doctors keep you informed and guide you throughout the procedure.
In the case of a core needle biopsy, you may have to stay in the hospital facility for a day or a few hours. It is usually done under image guidance, the practitioner will advise an IV or intravenous line to administer medications. Depending on the type of biopsy, they may also administer a sedative before the procedure.
For proliferative growths → punch biopics can be performed for ulceroinfiltrative lesion lesions → incision biopsy can be performed.
How to prepare for a biopsy?
Your doctor will guide you with the standard protocol. Here is what the preparation for a biopsy involves:
- Discuss your medical history with your doctor. Talk to them about any recent illness or surgery if there was any.
- Talk to the doctor about your daily supplements and medications if any. While most regular medications are permitted, they might ask you to stop some.
- Inform your doctor about your allergies to medications if you have any.
- Let your doctor know if you are pregnant. Certain procedures, especially endoscopy, are not suggested during pregnancy to avoid exposure to radiation.
- Ask your doctor about your diet and fluid intake before the procedure.
- Finally, before they begin the procedure, your doctor will walk you through the procedure.
Types of Biopsy
The type of biopsy performed depend on the purpose and the body part to be examined:
- Shave biopsy: Shave biopsy is a procedure of simply scraping some cells off of a skin surface. It is used to check for unusual moles or growths on the skin.
- Punch biopsy: This procedure involves punching and extracting the tissue from suspicious growth or lesion from the affected area for further examination.
- Excisional or incisional biopsy: This type of biopsy is performed using a scalpel, and it is used as a treatment option for certain infections or lesions as well as for diagnosis.
- Needle biopsy: This type of biopsy is used to extract cells from a tumor or to collect fluid for further diagnosis. It is also used to extract from larger masses or solid organs.
- Endoscopic or laparoscopic biopsy: In this type of biopsy, an incision is made on the skin through which an instrument called an endoscope is inserted inside. The endoscope has a camera at the tip of it, which allows the practitioner to see and extract the sample.
- Perioperative biopsy: This type of biopsy is done while another procedure is being done on a patient.
- Bone marrow biopsy: A core needle with a syringe is inserted, usually in the spine, to extract a sample of bone marrow to check for cancer or other infections in the body.
Follow up after biopsy
A biopsy helps your healthcare provider diagnose the abnormal masses or growths on or inside your body. Post diagnosis, the practitioner devices a treatment plan for you. Your interventional radiologist will schedule a follow-up to discuss the reports of your biopsy. If needed, the treatment plan is implemented. The practitioner will guide you with it along with timely follow-ups to keep a track of progress. If at all there arises a complication like bleeding or infection during or after the biopsy, you will need to get it checked and treated by the practitioner.
Risks associated with biopsy
- Certain types of biopsies require large incisions and anesthesia as well.
- Any procedure that includes penetrating the skin comes with chances of infection, which most often needs a course of antibiotic medications to be treated.
- Other complications include bleeding and accidental injury during the procedure.
Recovery after biopsy
Biopsies being minimally invasive, require a brief recovery period. However, recovery largely depends on the type of biopsy. You might experience some pain and soreness at the site of the procedure for a couple of days. If you experience unbearable pain, your doctor will prescribe some medications. The post-procedure instructions and guidelines differ from case to case.