A biopsy is a diagnostic procedure in which a sample of living tissue or cells is removed with a tiny needle to be examined by a pathologist, a doctor specially trained in tissue identification. Many types of tissue can be biopsied including skin, bone, organs and other soft tissue. The sample of tissue is usually examined under a microscope to determine if it is healthy or if it shows any kind of disease or abnormality.
In many cases, the use of medical imaging such as MRI, mammography or ultrasound is used to guide the doctor in performing the biopsy to help pinpoint the tissue, organ or bone under observation.
A biopsy may be recommended to find out whether a suspicious mass is cancerous (malignant) or non-cancerous (benign). In some cases, it may be the only way to accurately diagnose a lump or swelling. A biopsy can also help to identify whether there is an infection and what is causing it.
- Fine needle aspiration and core needle biopsies
- Full range of image-guided biopsies, including mammography (stereotactic), ultrasound, MRI