How to do a biopsy


The biopsy is a rather minor procedure. Patients often do not have to go to hospital for a long time; most biopsies are performed by doctors on an outpatient basis. Which doctor carries out the procedure, which method he uses and how long the biopsy takes, depends on the location on or in the body from which he is taking tissue.

If the biopsy is carried out from the outside through the skin, the doctor disinfects the relevant area as a first step. In addition, the patient receives a local anesthetic for the site of the operation. Then the doctor takes a sample of tissue. After the biopsy, he bandages the wound.

If the tissue changes are small, such as a birthmark, the doctor may remove the entire suspicious area. This also applies to the biopsy of lymph nodes. Instead of just taking a tissue sample, the doctor usually removes the entire lymph node to check whether there are tumor cells there.

If the place where the doctor wants to remove tissue is in internal organs, he first uses imaging techniques to determine its exact location in the body. To do this, he uses ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRT) or computer tomography (CT). Depending on how difficult it is for the doctor to get to the appropriate location, the biopsy can also be more complex. Especially when it comes to tissue from organs such as the liver or a biopsy of the kidneys or if the patient is in poor health, a biopsy often requires a stay in hospital.

If doctors, on the other hand, want to perform a biopsy of the intestine or lungs, they often take the tissue sample as part of a mirroring.

The tissue is then examined by the biopsy experts, mostly pathologists. In the laboratory, they can tell whether the sample consists of benign or malignant tissue. If it is a tumor - i.e. malignant tissue - they can also tell whether the tissue came from the location where the sample was taken and whether the primary tumor is at the point where the doctor took the sample or whether it is a metastasis, i.e. the tumor has scattered. How long it takes before the biopsy results are available depends on various factors: for example, whether more extensive molecular biological or microscopic examinations are necessary to confirm or rule out a tumor disease. If the exam is routine, the patient will usually have to wait two to three days.