Fine Needle Biopsy Patient Education

Pre-Procedure Patient Information

What is a Fine Needle Biopsy?

A Fine Needle Biopsy is a procedure in which small samples of tissue are removed from the body using a thin needle inserted through the skin. The tissue is examined under a microscope. A biopsy may be done to determine the cause (diagnosis) of a condition or mass (tumor). A biopsy may also be done to determine the best treatment for you. In some instances, a biopsy may be performed on normal tissue to determine if cancer has spread or if a transplanted organ is being rejected.

What conditions should I make sure my doctor is aware of?

Before your exam, you should notify the doctor or nurse of:

  • Any drug/food allergies
  • Any blood thinning medications (anticoagulants) that you are taking
  • Any medical conditions you have
  • If you have an active infection
  • Whether you are pregnant or may be pregnant
  • Any problems you or your family members have had with anesthetic medications

What are the risks?

Generally, this is a safe procedure. However, as with any procedure, complications can occur. Possible complications include:

  • Bleeding from the biopsy site. The risk of bleeding is higher if you have a bleeding disorder or are taking any blood thinning medicines (anticoagulants).
  • Infection
  • Injury to organs or structures near the biopsy site
  • Very rarely, a second biopsy may be required if not enough tissue was collected during the first biopsy

About the Procedure

Before the procedure:

  • Your health care provider may want you to have blood tests. These tests can help tell how well your kidneys and liver are working. They can also show how well your blood clots.
  • Do not eat or drink within eight hours of your appointment.
  • If you have diabetes and use insulin, you may need to adjust the dosage of insulin the night prior and the day of the procedure. Your primary care doctor can help you with this adjustment.
  • If you are on blood thinning medications, you may need to stop them prior to the procedure. Check with your primary care doctor about when it is safe to stop blood-thinning medicine.
  • Do not discontinue any medication without first consulting with your primary care or referring physician.
  • Do not take new dietary supplements or medicines during the week before your procedure unless your health care provider approves them.
  • Plan to have someone take you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours after you leave the hospital. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery for at least 24 hours after the procedure.

 The day of the procedure:

  • Make sure you shower on the day of your procedure, washing the anticipated procedure site with soap and water.
  • If you were told to take a medication or to continue taking a medication on the day of the procedure, take the medication with a small sip of water.
  • Please arrive and register at admissions in the lobby of the hospital at your scheduled time.
  • You will be escorted to the prep area, where you will be connected to a machine that will take your blood pressure and your heart rate. You will also have electrocardiogram (ECG) leads placed on your chest to allow us to monitor your heart during the procedure.
  • A nurse will insert an IV into your arm. During the biopsy, this IV may be used to give you medications. These medications may include medicine to help you relax and help reduce pain. The nurse will also review your medical history and medications, listen to your heart and lungs and make sure you have followed all your pre-procedure instructions.
  • The Radiologist will obtain your consent for the biopsy. The Radiologist will explain the procedure including possible complications and side effects. They will also answer any questions you may have.

During the procedure:

You will be awake during the procedure. You may be given medication through your IV to help you relax and to reduce pain. You will be positioned to allow the best possible access to the biopsy site. Let the staff know if the position is not comfortable. The biopsy site will be cleansed with a special antiseptic solution. Sterile drapes will be placed. The doctor will inject a small amount of local anesthetic through a very small needle in the skin at the biopsy site. It feels like a pinch and then a slight burning as the local anesthetic starts numbing the skin.

A needle is inserted through your skin. You may feel mild discomfort during this procedure. The needle is withdrawn once tissue samples have been removed. Pressure may be applied to the biopsy site to reduce swelling and to ensure that any bleeding has stopped. The samples will be sent to be examined. Your skin will be cleansed and a bandage will be applied.

After the procedure:

  • You will stay in the recovery area for observation for 30 minutes – 2 hours. For specific biopsies, the recovery time may be longer.
  • You may need to lie on your biopsy site for one hour
  • You will be asked about your pain
  • The nurses will review your discharge instructions with you
  • You will then be discharged home. Someone must drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours.

Can I resume normal activities?

  • Do not drive or operate heavy machinery for 24 hours after the procedure
  • Resume your normal diet
  • There may be other restrictions depending on your specific biopsy

What do I do for follow up visits?

Please make a follow up appointment with your ordering physician for follow up care. Your ordering physician will contact you with the results of your biopsy.

Contact Information:

Contact your ordering physician for any questions or concerns to include:

  • Procedure site problems to include:
    • Redness, swelling, or pain
    • Fluid or small amount of blood
    • Pus or a bad smell
  • You have a fever that does not get better with medicine
  • You feel like you may vomit (nauseous) or you vomit
  • Your skin becomes itchy or you develop a rash or hives

Get help right away if:

  • You have very bad bleeding from the biopsy site
  • You have chest pain
  • You are short of breath or have trouble breathing
  • You feel dizzy or you faint

These symptoms may be an emergency. Get help right away. Call 911.

  • Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away.
  • Do not drive yourself to the hospital.