What will happen?
Hospital admission is not a prerogative for the procedure, but as everybody is different, you may need to stay in hospital and the length of hospitalization may vary.
You will arrive in the Radiology Department where the interventional radiologist (a doctor specially trained to perform this procedure) and radiographer will explain the procedure and answer your questions. The study usually takes about 30-60 minutes. After completion, you will be monitored for up to 3 hours for possible complications — depending on the part of your body that has been biopsied.
Do you need any test before the procedure?
You will be asked to have following blood tests:
PI/FIT/Platelets — to assess the risk of post procedural bleeding.
As in some cases we may need to give you contrast (X-ray dye), you should discuss any allergy history (particularly to Iodine) with the radiologist prior to booking a biopsy.
If you suffer from emphysema, we may ask you to have lung function tests before biopsy of the lung lesion — to assess if you will tolerate possible procedure related lung collapse.
The biopsy procedure
You will have a drip placed in the arm for vascular access. Mild sedation might be required. The radiologist will assess how to best visualize the lesion and accordingly decide whether to do it at the CT Scanner, Ultrasound, Mammography or Interventional Radiology Suite. Your skin will be sterilized and draped. The radiologist will apply local anesthetic and with a help of imaging place the needle into the tissue of interest and remove the sample.
What will I feel? Does it hurt?
You will feel a bee sting when the doctor numbs the skin. You may feel some pressure and discomfort when the needle is inserted. We may need to give you extra medication to help you relax and to reduce your pain.
What are the risks?
Bleeding at the biopsy site happens seldom and is usually minimal. In the unlikely case of arterial bleeding after core biopsy, surgical intervention or embolization may be necessary to control it.
The risk of infection is very low In a case of a lung nodule or mass biopsy, the air leak from the punctured lung may cause lung collapse (Pneumothorax). Sometimes it may necessitate placement of a chest tube in which case you will have to be admitted. The patients with the history of smoking and emphysema are at higher risk, but this complication is generally difficult to predict.
In a small number of cases, the obtained sample may not be adequate for the diagnosis. The radiologist and your referring doctor will discuss alternative options with you (imaging follow-up or surgical removal of the lesion).
When will I get my results?
The radiologist will be able to talk to you after the biopsy and advise if the procedure was a technical success. However, the pathological results usually take 12-24 hours in a case of FNA and even longer with Core biopsy. The final diagnosis will be presented to you only at your official appointment with referring doctor.
When will I resume my normal activities?
This varies depending on your general health condition and the location of the biopsied organ. In most cases, you may go back to your normal life the following day but the radiologist will let you know for sure.