Biopsy is a medical procedure in which a sample of a tissue is taken for examination for the diagnosis of an illness or medical condition. Biopsy can help to diagnose many diseases, but are especially important in the diagnosis of cancer. Biopsy can vary greatly in invasiveness depending on how difficult the tissue is to obtain. A minimally invasive biopsy, such as skin biopsy can be done at the doctor's office without any special preparation; it is during the same visit that the lesion is discovered. The doctor will give you a small injection of numbing medicine to make the procedure almost painless before taking the tissue sample. In case of more invasive biopsy, you may have to go to a hospital or get admitted.
What Happens After the Biopsy?
After the sample is taken, it is preserved and sent to a pathology laboratory for examination. The pathologists (a doctor who specialises in diagnosing conditions based on tissue samples and other tests) examines the tissue sample. The tissue is usually processed with chemical and sliced up into very thin sections. It may also be stained (dye is added to the tissue) before examination. The pathologist on microscopic examination (examination of tissue under a microscope) notes the tissue cells' type, shape and internal activity. These details help the pathologist determine if the tissue is normal or has changes suggestive of some disease. The pathologist after examining and studying the sample prepares a report that includes the important findings and sends it to the doctor, who ordered the biopsy.
When to follow up after the Biopsy?
Before you are sent home after the biopsy, your doctor will inform you about the follow-up visit for biopsy sample report. The time taken for the biopsy results to come may vary. In many cases, the biopsy result is returned within 24 to 48 hours.
In case of surgical biopsy, the pathologist may read a biopsy and report back to a surgeon in a few minutes. This report is the preliminary (not the final report) report. After detailed examination in the lab, a final biopsy report is usually sent within a few days, a week or longer. Your doctor will discuss the result of biopsy on follow-up and recommend treatment.
If you have any doubts regarding the time of follow-up appointment, contact your doctor’s office.
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