A needle biopsy of the lung or pleura is done to remove a sample of lung or pleural tissue or fluid. Pleura is the lining of the lungs and chest wall. Once the tissue is removed, it will be examined in a lab.
This procedure is used to diagnose abnormal tissue in or around the lung. Possible reasons for abnormal tissue are:
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a needle biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Make sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
Your doctor may order:
Leading up to your procedure, do not start taking any new medicines without consulting your doctor.
You may be given pre-procedure medicines for certain conditions (eg, to suppress a cough).
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
Your skin will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. You will be in a seated position, leaning forward, with your arms resting on a table for support. You should remain as still as possible. An ultrasound or CT scan will be used to locate the exact spot to be biopsied.
A small cut will be made in your skin. Then, while you hold your breath, the biopsy needle will be inserted through the cut. The needle will be passed between your ribs until it reaches the lung or pleura. Your doctor then withdraws some cells through the biopsy needle. The needle will be withdrawn. Pressure will be put on the site of the incision. When the bleeding stops, a bandage will be applied.
Between 30-60 minutes
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
Ask your doctor when to expect the results of the biopsy.
After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
In case of an emergency, CALL 911.
American Cancer Society
American Lung Association
Canadian Cancer Society
Canadian Lung Association
Beers MH, Fletcher AJ, Jones TV, et al. The Merck Manual of Medical Information: Second Home Edition. Whitehouse Station, NJ: Merck Research Laboratories; 2003.
Busick NP, Fretz PC, Galvin JR, et al. Transthoracic needle aspiration biopsy. Virtual Hospital website. Available at: http://www.vh.org. Accessed September 6, 2005.
Light R, Lee G (eds). Textbook of Pleural Diseases. London, England: Arnold; 2003.
Mason RJ. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2005.
Murray JF, Mason RJ. Murray & Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2007.
Ost D, et al. Clinical practice. The solitary pulmonary nodule. N Engl J Med. 2003;348:2535.
Last reviewed November 2009 by
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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