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Biopsy

Many diseases, including cancer, can be detected with blood tests or seen with X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance (MR) and Ultrasound (US). When an abnormality is seen, it may be necessary to obtain a sample of the abnormal tissue to confirm or rule out a diagnosis of cancer. The removal of sample tissue is called a biopsy. By examining the biopsy sample, pathologists and other experts can determine what the abnormality is -- for example, cancer, a noncancerous tumor, infection, or scar. If cancer is found, experts also can determine what kind of cancer is present and whether it is likely to be fast or slow growing. This information is important in deciding the best type of treatment.


Traditionally, biopsy has required open surgery. With interventional radiology techniques, however, tissue samples usually can be obtained without the need for open surgery.


Needle biopsy, also called image-guided biopsy, is usually performed using imaging guidance (X-ray, CT scan, Ultrasound). In many cases, needle biopsies are performed with the aid of equipment that creates a computer-generated image and allows radiologists to see an area inside the body from various angles.


Advantages of needle biopsy include:

  • the abnormality can be biopsied while important nearby structures such as blood vessels and vital organs can be seen and avoided.
  • the patient is spared the pain, scarring and complications associated with open surgery.
  • recovery times are usually shorter and patients can resume normal activities sooner.

Preparing for your procedure

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