This involves taking a tiny sample of tissue through a needle. The needle is guided into place using a CT machine.

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 on the CT table in the best way to access the area to be biopsied. Your skin will be cleaned with antiseptic and local anaesthetic will be administered.

The radiologist will use the CT machine to guide a needle into the correct area. It is often necessary to make more than one pass of the needle to obtain a sufficient sample. It is important that you are able to keep still and follow breath holding instructions during the procedure which may take up to 30 minutes.

Risks / Side Effects

Potential risks include infection, bleeding and pneumothorax.

  • Aseptic technique is used to minimise the risk of infection as much as possible.
  • Bloodstaining of the sputum may be seen and should settle. Rarely, excessive bleeding can occur at the biopsy site and may require drainage, transfusion or surgery.
  • Air may leak out of a hole in the lung and collect around the lung (pneumothorax). If small, this will be followed up without treatment. If large, a chest drain may need to be inserted

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.

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.

You may be asked to fast for 6 hours prior to the procedure and a day hospital admission is usually required to permit a period of observation following the procedure. It is important to have someone to drive you home after the procedure.

Other Information

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

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

Bloodstaining of the sputum may be seen and should settle.

You may experience some discomfort following the procedure.

  • If required, a simple analgesic such as paracetamol (Panadol), NOT Aspirin, should be sufficient.

Air may leak out of a hole in the lung and collect around the lung

  • If you experience worsening shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or increasing pain on breathing

contact your referring doctor, local doctor or your local emergency department immediately.

Please contact your referring doctor if you:

  • cough up increasing amounts of blood.
  • notice fever, swelling, or increased pain at the needle entry site

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

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