Lung needle biopsy
A lung needle biopsy is a method to remove a piece of lung tissue for examination. If it is done through the wall of your chest, it is called a transthoracic lung biopsy.
Transthoracic needle aspiration; Percutaneous needle aspiration
How the Test is Performed
The procedure usually takes 30 to 60 minutes. The biopsy is done in the following way:
How to Prepare for the Test
You should not eat for 6 to 12 hours before the test. Follow instructions about not taking aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, or blood thinners such as warfarin for a period of time before the procedure. Check with your health care provider before changing or stopping any medicines.
Before a needle biopsy of the lung, a chest x-ray or chest CT scan may be performed.
How the Test will Feel
You will receive an injection of anesthetic before the biopsy. This injection will sting for a moment. You will feel pressure and a brief, sharp pain when the biopsy needle touches the lung.
Why the Test is Performed
A lung needle biopsy is done when there is an abnormal condition near the surface of the lung, in the lung itself, or on the chest wall. Most often, it is done to rule out cancer. The biopsy is usually done after abnormalities appear on a chest x-ray or CT scan.
In a normal test, the tissues are normal and there is no cancer or growth of bacteria, viruses, or fungi if a culture is performed.
What Abnormal Results Mean
An abnormal result may be due to any of the following:
Sometimes, a collapsed lung (pneumothorax) occurs after this test. A chest x-ray will be done to check for this. The risk is higher if you have certain lung diseases such as emphysema. Usually, a collapsed lung after a biopsy does not need treatment. But if the pneumothorax is large or does not improve, a chest tube is inserted to expand your lung.
In rare cases, pneumothorax can be life threatening if air escapes from the lung, gets trapped in the chest, and presses on the rest of your lungs or heart.
Whenever a biopsy is done, there is a risk of too much bleeding (hemorrhage). Some bleeding is common, and a provider will monitor the amount of bleeding. In rare cases, major and life-threatening bleeding can occur.
A needle biopsy should not be performed if other tests show that you have:
Signs of a collapsed lung include:
If any of these occur, call your provider right away.
Given MF, Corr A, Thomson KR, Lyon SM. Percutaneous biopsy of the lung, mediastinum, and pleura. In: Mauro MA, Murphy KPJ, Thomson KR, Venbrux AC, Morgan RA, eds. Image-Guided Interventions. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 152.
Klein JS, Bhave AD. Thoracic radiology: invasive diagnostic imaging and image-guided interventions. In: Broaddus VC, Mason RJ, Ernst JD, et al, eds. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 19.
Review Date: 8/21/2016
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron, Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.