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Anesthesia and biopsies
There are different kinds of anesthesia used for biopsies. A local anesthesia may be all that is needed. Other procedures may require sedation or general anesthesia.
A biopsy removes cells or tissue from the body. The material taken in a biopsy is then screened for abnormal signs. Biopsies are most often done to diagnose cancer. This is a safe procedure with little risk.
What to Expect
A biopsy can be as simple as taking a sample of skin in the doctor’s office, or it can be more involved. After the biopsy is taken, a doctor called a pathologist checks the cells or tissue under a microscope. The results then go to your doctor.
What Do the Results Show?
The results will tell your doctor if the cells are cancerous, and how aggressive the cancer is. Your doctor will then talk with you about the results and your treatment. Usually, you will have to wait 1 or 2 days for your biopsy results.
There are different kinds of biopsies:
- Surgical Biopsy: A cut is made to remove the tissue to be checked. There are 2 types of surgical biopsies:
- An excisional biopsy removes the entire area in question. An organ, tumor or lump may be checked whole for the most accurate diagnosis.
- An incisional biopsy removes a piece of tissue from the lump. For example, a surgeon may remove a breast lump or lymph node.
Skin Biopsy: This biopsy samples cells from your skin. It is used to diagnose skin cancer. Skin may be shaved or scraped from your skin. This usually doesn’t require stitches.
The doctor may make a cut to remove a small area of skin or an entire lump. Stitches are likely depending on how much skin is removed. It may be necessary to take a sample of your skin’s deep layers. This technique is called a punch biopsy. It uses a circular tool like a small cookie cutter to cut out a small piece of skin.
Needle Biopsy: This type of biopsy is done on tumors or masses that you can feel through your skin. A needle is used to collect the cells to be examined. A fine needle aspiration can be used to draw out the cells to be tested. This fine needle can reach a tumor that is deep in the body or hard to reach.
Needle biopsies may be done on organs like the liver, pancreas, lung or thryoid gland. This procedure can often replace major surgery to collect a sample. A fine needle aspiration requires no anesthesia. A core needle biopsy uses a larger needle to draw out the tissue in the suspicious area.
Endoscopic Biopsy: This is a common biopsy. It uses a thin, flexible tube with a light on the end to see the suspicious area and pinch off bits of tissue to be tested. An endoscopic biopsy can be used on many areas of the body including the bladder, colon, belly, joints, trachea or bronchial tubes.
Bone Marrow Biopsy: Your body produces blood in the bone marrow. This biopsy checks the cells of your bone marrow to diagnose blood problems. These problems may be cancerous or non-cancerous. A sample of bone marrow is drawn out of the back of your hip bone with a long needle. A local anesthetic is used to make it less painful.
Your doctor will decide which is most appropriate.