Biopsy is an invasive test that is done for the purpose of analysing the health and integrity of various tissues in the body such as the skin, lungs, muscle, bone, liver, kidney or spleen. The purpose of a biopsy is to observe any changes in the shape and size of cells so as to identify the presence of cancer cells and other health conditions.
When the doctor requests to perform a biopsy, there is usually a suspicion that the tissue has been altered in a way that cannot be seen in other tests. For this reason, it is necessary to perform the test promptly so as to diagnose the underlying issue and start treatment as soon as possible.
What is it for?
Biopsy is done when there is a suspicion of cellular alterations and it is usually done after blood or imagine tests. Thus biopsy may be performed when cancer is suspected or when there is need to evaluate the characteristic of a sign or a wart that is present on the skin.
In case of an infectious disease, biopsy may be done to help in the identification of the infectious agent that is responsible for the alteration. It is also performed when one has autoimmune diseases so as to check changes in the organs or internal tissues.
The following situations can necessitate the need to perform a biopsy:
- Biopsy of the uterus: It identifies possible changes in the tissue lining the uterus that may be a sign of abnormal growth of the endometrium, infections in the uterus or cancer.
- Prostate biopsy: This identifies changes in the prostate glands.
- Liver biopsy: It functions to diagnose cancer or other liver lesions such as cirrhosis or hepatitis B and C.
- Bone marrow biopsy: It diagnoses and tracks evolution of diseases of the blood such as leukaemia and lymphoma.
- Biopsy of the kidneys: It is performed when proteins are in the blood or in urine with the aim of identifying kidney problems.
Aside from these types, there is also liquid biopsy that involves evaluation of cancer cells and it can be done as an alternative of collecting tissue sample.
The results of the biopsy examination may be positive or negative and the doctor may always ask for a repeat of the same so as to eliminate any chances of a false positive hypothesis.
How it’s done
In most cases, biopsies are done using local anaesthesia or with a mild sedation and it is a painless and fast procedure that does not usually require hospitalization. During this procedure, the doctor collects the sample material which will be analysed in the laboratory.
For internal biopsies, the procedure is usually image-oriented and it uses techniques such as computed tomography, ultrasonography or magnetic resonance imaging. This allows for the observation of organs. The site where the biopsy was collected should be cleaned and disinfected according to the instructions of the doctor. In some cases, the doctor may also recommend taking of antibiotics which will assist in healing of the wound.