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Biliary tract biopsy: A procedure that involves taking a sample of tissue or material from the duodenum, bile ducts, pancreas or pancreatic duct to test for malignancy or other diseases.

illustration How the test is performed: Depending upon the problem, specimens can be obtained in multiple ways. If there is a discrete mass, the specimen can be obtained through an aspiration needle. If the biopsy specimen is taken through a needle, the puncture site will be anesthetized and the needle inserted through the skin into the lining or tissue to be analyzed. A small amount of tissue is taken in through the needle, and the needle is removed. The puncture site is then covered to control any bleeding. Pressure may be applied to the puncture site if bleeding persists.

If there is an abnormality such as a stricture or blockage of the bile ducts or pancreatic ducts, a specimen can be taken during procedures such as endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) or percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC).

If the specimen is taken during the ERCP, and endoscope is passed through the mouth into the duodenum. A catheter is inserted through the endoscope and into bile duct, and a specimen is obtained. If a stricture or blockage is observed, the area will be brushed, and the sample of the brushed material will be analyzed. If a percutaneous transhepatic cholangiogram (PTC) is performed, the puncture site will be anesthetized, and the needle will be inserted through the skin into the ducts. A catheter will then be inserted to obtain a specimen from the ducts.


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