This involves taking a tiny sample of tissue through a needle. This may be a fine needle aspiration (FNA) or a core biopsy. The needle is guided into place using an ultrasound or CT.

The sample is sent to a pathology laboratory where the specimen is later analysed. Results are usually available in 2 to 3 days. The report will be sent to your referring doctor who will then convey these results to you. The pathology company may also charge a gap for these services. Please discuss this with us if you have any questions.


You will be positioned in the best way to access the area to be biopsied. The area will be cleaned with antiseptic and local anaesthetic administered. For an FNA the radiologist will use ultrasound or CT to guide a needle into the correct area. If a core biopsy is performed, a tiny incision will be made in the skin before the core needle is inserted. It is often necessary to make more than one pass of the needle to obtain a sufficient sample.

Risks / Side Effects

Potential risks include infection and bleeding.

  • Aseptic technique is used to minimise the risk of infection as much as possible.
  • There may be some mild bruising at the site.
  • The needle may puncture an organ or blood vessel.
  • Rarely, excessive bleeding can occur into the biopsy site and may require drainage, blood transfusion or surgery.

The biopsy may not obtain an adequate sample of tissue. This may require a repeat biopsy.

Before your Scan

It is essential that your previous x-ray, CT and ultrasound films are available at the time of the biopsy. Please bring these with you to your examination if you have them.

You may be asked to fast for 6 hours prior to the procedure.

Please inform us if you are on medication to thin your blood (eg. Warfarin, Aspirin or Clopidogrel). You may need to stop this prior to the procedure after discussion with your doctor.

Day hospital admission may be required. It is important that you have someone to drive you home after the procedure.

Other Information

You should avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours following the biopsy.

You may remove your dressing/band aid that night or the next day.

You may experience some discomfort following the procedure.

  • If required, a simple analgesic such as paracetamol (Panadol), NOT Aspirin, should be sufficient.
  • A small ice pack applied to the area may help settle pain.

Bleeding and infection are potential complications

  • By the time you have been discharged it is unlikely any further bleeding will occur
  • If you notice any increasing redness, swelling, fever or pain notify your referring doctor or call the clinic where the injection was performed immediately.
  • If your biopsy was in the abdomen, increasing shoulder tip pain should also be reported

If you have not been contacted about your results in 1 to 2 weeks please contact your referrer

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