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Patient care — diagnostic tools, tests, procedures

Biopsy: A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue for microscopic examination and/or culture, often to help the physician make a diagnosis.

The method of tissue removal varies among the type of biopsies:

  • In a needle (percutaneous) biopsy, the tissue sample is simply obtained by use of a syringe. A needle is passed into the tissue to be biopsied, and cells are removed through the needle. Depending on the location of the tissue to be biopsied, needle biopsies are often performed under X-ray (usually CT scan) guidance.
  • In an open biopsy, an incision is made in the skin, the organ is exposed, and a tissue sample is taken.
  • Closed biopsy involves a much smaller incision than open biopsy. The small incision is made to allow insertion of a visualization device, which can guide the physician to the appropriate area to take the sample.

If the tissue to be sampled is in the abdomen and cannot be safely accessed with a needle or closed procedure, an open biopsy must be performed in the operating room.

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