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INTERVENTIONAL RADIOLOGY - International Turkish Hospital

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Interventional Radiology


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What are biopses?

A biopsy is the removal of tissue in order to examine it for disease. The tissue samples can be taken from any part of the body. Biopsies are performed in several different ways. Some biopsies involve removing a small amount of tissue with a needle while others involve surgically removing an entire lump, or nodule, that is suspicious.

Often, the tissue is removed by placing a needle through the skin (percutaneously) to the area of abnormality. Biopsies can be safely performed with imaging guidance such as ultrasound, x-ray, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These types of imaging are used to determine exactly where to place the needle and perform the biopsy.

What are some common uses of the procedure?

When a nodule is detected, imaging tests may be performed to help determine if it is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If imaging studies cannot clearly define the abnormality, a biopsy may be necessary.

Usually, a biopsy is performed to examine tissue for disease. Biopsies are frequently used to diagnose cancer, but they can help identify other conditions such as infections and autoimmune disorders. They may also be done to match organ tissue before a transplant.

Biopsies are performed in many areas of the body and for many reasons. The following is a list of common biopsy types and why they may be necessary:

  • Abdominal biopsy is used to diagnose whether a lump in the abdomen is cancerous or benign. The lumps can be located in the fat, deep within the abdomen. A sample of the lump is removed percutaneously under image guidance (ultrasound or CT), or surgically using a laparoscope or by open surgery.
  • Bone biopsy is used to diagnose cancer or infection in the bones. This type of biopsy can be performed through the skin (percutaneously) with a needle or surgically.
  • Bone marrow biopsy is used to diagnose cancer in the blood, such as leukemia. A small sample of the bone and bone marrow are removed using a needle. Sometimes, only the bone marrow is removed for examination.
  • Breast biopsy is used to determine if a lump in the breast is cancerous or benign. It can be performed a number of ways:

o Stereotactic (mammographically-guided)
o Ultrasound-guided
o MRI-guided

  • Endometrial biopsy may be used when looking for the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding, to examine the lining of the uterus and to diagnose cancer. This type of biopsy can be performed by using a small needle-like device to capture a sample or by using a tool to scrape some of the lining for examination.
  • Kidney (renal) biopsy is used to examine the condition of a kidney with kidney failure, inflammation in the kidney or a suspected tumor (such as cancer). It can also be used to examine a transplanted kidney for signs of transplant rejection. Kidney biopsies are performed with image guidance (ultrasound or CT) using a needle to remove a small sample of the tissue.
  • Liver biopsy is used to diagnose diseases of the liver such as hepatitis C, cirrhosis, infections and cancer. It can also be used to examine a transplanted liver for signs of transplant rejection. This is a frequent indication in children. Liver biopsies are typically performed by inserting a needle through the skin. The liver can also be biopsied via a catheter inserted through the jugular vein (a large neck vein) to capture a tissue sample, or can be biopsied surgically.
  • Lymph node biopsy is performed whenever there are enlarged or abnormal lymph nodes. They can be performed with a needle or surgically.
  • Muscle biopsy is used to diagnose infections that affect muscle, defects in the muscle and diseases of the connective tissue and blood vessels. This type of biopsy can be performed using a needle or surgically.
  • Nerve biopsy is used to examine damage to small nerves, degeneration and destruction of the nerve and inflammatory nerve conditions. Nerve biopsies are typically performed surgically.
  • Skin biopsy examines a growth or an area on the skin, such as a mole, that has changed its appearance. Skin biopsies can be performed by shaving a small sample of the skin, removing a sample with a scalpel or by way of an instrument used to punch through a portion of the skin.
  • Testicular biopsy is used when researching male infertility. It is also used to determine if a lump in the testicles is cancerous or benign. Testicular biopsies can be performed using a needle, by a small cut made in the skin or surgically.
  • Thyroid biopsy is used to find the cause of a nodule in the thyroid gland. This type of biopsy is typically performed using a needle with ultrasound guidance.

Almost any organ can be biopsied, including the bladder, heart, neck, prostate, parathyroid glands, etc.


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