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A needle biopsy is a medical test which can identify the cause of an abnormal lump, mass, infection, or cancer in your body. A specially trained radiologist performs this procedure. During the procedure, the radiologist inserts a small needle into the abnormal area and removes a sample of the tissue, which is given to a pathologist, who looks at it under a microscope. The pathologist can determine what the abnormal tissue is: cancer, non-cancerous tumor, infection or scar. Types of biopsies we offer include: • Thyroid • Bone Marrow • Bone Why do I need a needle biopsy? The most common reason to need a needle biopsy is to identify the cause of an abnormal lump somewhere deep in your body. Imaging tests such as mammography, ultrasound, CT scan, and magnetic resonance (MRI), can find abnormal masses, but these tests alone cannot always diagnose the lump. A needle biopsy can determine the cause of an abnormal lump or mass. Your doctors need this information in order to provide you with the best care and treatment. How do I prepare for a needle biopsy? Patients on blood thinners may be asked to stop medication prior to procedure. Lab work is required before certain procedures. Your doctor will tell you if any special diet or medication instructions are necessary. What is a needle biopsy procedure like? Will it hurt? First, the radiologist will use some form of imaging such as CT or ultrasound to determine the best approach for the biopsy. Next, the radiologist will wash the area where the needle biopsy is going to be performed and put local anesthetic in the skin and deeper tissues to numb the area. The radiologist will then put a small needle into the mass, lump, soft tissue, or bone. This doctor will take CT or ultrasound images of the biopsy area during the procedure. These images will help the radiologist put the needle in exactly the right place. You usually feel some pressure during the procedure. The radiologist will use the biopsy needle to remove a tiny piece of tissue or some cells from the mass. A needle biopsy usually takes about one hour. The tissue (or cell) sample is sent to a pathologist, who will examine the tissue or cells under a microscope. Usually, the results of the biopsy are ready in two to three days. What happens after the biopsy? When can I go home? After your biopsy, you will be asked to stay for a time period so that the staff can watch you to make sure that you are alright. Most people go home shortly after the procedure. You may be sore in the biopsy area for one to two days. What are the risks of having a needle biopsy? A needle biopsy has few risks because such a small needle is used. Complications are very infrequent: fewer than one percent of patients develop bleeding or infection. A member of your radiology team will discuss the risks of your biopsy with you in detail before the procedure starts. In about 90 percent of the patients, the needle biopsy provides enough information for the pathologist to diagnose any abnormality. Occasionally you may be asked to return for a second needle biopsy. For information on how to prepare for this exam, click here.