Lung Biopsy


If there is a reason to think you may have lung cancer, your doctor will likely order several tests to determine if cancerous cells are present and rule out other disorders.

A lung biopsy is a valuable diagnostic tool that involves taking a sample of lung tissue to test for cancerous cells and determine a treatment plan, if necessary, based on the results.

Why a Lung Biopsy?

A lung biopsy allows the physician to effectively diagnose or rule out lung cancer based on tissue harvested directly from the lung. A biopsy may also be performed in order to diagnose conditions such as Sarcoidosis or Pulmonary Fibrosis or in response to the unclear results derived from other testing procedures.

What to Expect

Image Courtesy of A.D.A.M.

Image Courtesy of A.D.A.M.

Your doctor can perform a lung biopsy in a more than one way:

  • Bronchoscopy Biopsy: Gathering a tissue sample by using a lighted tube that is passed through your throat into your lungs. For more information please visit Bronchoscopy.
  • Needle Biopsy: A lung needle biopsy is a method to remove a piece of lung tissue for examination. Your doctor guides a needle through the chest and into the lung to collect tissue samples using X-ray or CT images.  If it is done through the wall of your chest, it is called a transthoracic lung biopsy.
  • Open Biopsy: An incision is made between the ribs to remove a sample of lung tissue. This procedure is utilized if other forms of biopsy are not successful or a larger sample is required for diagnosis.
  • VATS: Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery requires a small incision be made in the chest for a scope to pass through in order to remove a lung tissue sample. For more information please visit VATS.

You will probably be asked to refrain from eating for several hours prior to your biopsy. In the event that you experience severe chest pain, lightheadedness, difficulty breathing, excessive bleeding from the area of incision or fever, contact your physician immediately.

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