A biopsy is a procedure done to remove tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope. Some biopsies can be done in a healthcare provider’s office, while others need to be done in a hospital setting. In addition, some biopsies can be done with a local anesthetic to numb just the local area involved. Others may need sedation or even full anesthesia that puts you completely asleep during the procedure.
Biopsies are usually done to find out if a tumor is cancerous or to find the cause of an unexplained lesion, mole, infection, or inflammation.
A biopsy can be done in various ways. It depends on the type of specimen needed. Tissue samples are usually small and taken from tissue that appears changed in structure, such as a tumor.
- Endoscopic biopsy.
- Bone marrow biopsy.
- Excisional or incisional biopsy.
- Fine needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy.
- Punch biopsy.
- Shave biopsy.
- Reflectance confocal microscopy (RCM).
Common biopsy sites
- Bone marrow
- Gastrointestinal tract (stomach and intestines)
- Lymph nodes
After a biopsy, the tissue specimen is sent to the pathology lab to be examined and analyzed. The time needed to get results back varies depending on the type of tissue and the tests being done.