A biopsy is a medical procedure that involves taking a small sample of cells or tissue from the body to be examined under a microscope. Biopsies are performed to help diagnose certain conditions, such as cancer. While biopsies are relatively safe, quick procedures, they do carry some potential side effects of biopsy test that patients should be aware of. In this article, we’ll explore the common side effects of different biopsy types and what you need to do after the procedure.
What is a Biopsy?
A biopsy involves removing a sample of suspicious cells or tissue and sending it to a lab for diagnostic testing. There are a few different types of biopsies:
- Fine needle aspiration: A thin needle and syringe remove fluid or cells from lumps or masses. There are significant chances of side effects of needle biopsy.
- Core needle biopsy: Uses a hollow needle to extract a cylindrical core of tissue.
- Surgical biopsy: Surgery is performed to cut out and remove a sample of the suspicious mass.
- Bone marrow biopsy: Special needle extracts bone marrow fluid and cells from hip bone.
The type of biopsy performed depends on the size and location of the abnormal tissue. Doctors choose the least invasive option that will provide the most useful sample.
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Common Side Effects of Biopsy Test
While biopsies are relatively low-risk, you may experience some side effects. The most common include:
- Pain: There may be some pain or discomfort during the procedure that resolves shortly after. The biopsy site may remain sore for 1-2 days.
- Bruising: Bleeding under the skin can cause bruises around the biopsy area.
- Infection: There is a small risk of infection any time the skin is cut or punctured. Signs include redness, swelling, drainage, warmth and fever.
- Excessive bleeding: Oozing from the biopsy site may occur. Applying firm pressure should stop it.
- Organ damage: When organs like the kidney, liver or lungs are biopsied, organ injury or collapsed lung is possible but very rare.
- Nerve damage: Nerves may occasionally be irritated or damaged during tissue sampling.
- Skin discoloration: The skin around the biopsy site may become darker or lighter than the surrounding skin.
- Blood clots: Clots can form but are uncommon. Symptoms include leg swelling, pain and redness.
- Tissue scarring: A scar may remain on the skin’s surface after a surgical biopsy.
For most patients, potential side effects are mild and resolve within a few days after the biopsy. Serious complications are rare when biopsies are performed correctly by experienced medical professionals but everyone must know what are the side effects of a biopsy.
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Steps to Take After Your Biopsy
To reduce the risk of biopsy side effects, follow all post-procedure care instructions from your medical team:
- Rest: Avoid strenuous work and exercise for at least 24 hours to allow healing.
- Ice pack: Use an ice pack on the biopsy area to prevent swelling and bruising.
- Bandage: Keep clean, dry bandages over the biopsy site until it seals and heals.
- Medication: Take over-the-counter meds like acetaminophen as recommended for pain.
- Watch for signs of infection: Look for symptoms like redness, swelling, pus and fever.
- Return promptly if bleeding persists: Apply pressure but visit the ER if bleeding continues.
- Get biopsy results: Consult your doctor to discuss your results and any additional steps.
- Contact doctor with concerns: Report any worrisome side effects to your healthcare provider.
Following your doctor’s discharge instructions carefully is important for reducing complications and supporting healing after your biopsy. Report any alarming symptoms that arise without delay.
When to Seek Medical Care
In most cases, biopsy side effects are minor and resolve on their own. Contact your doctor right away if you experience:
- Excessive bleeding that won’t stop when pressure is applied
- Intense or worsening pain at the biopsy site
- Signs of infection like redness, swelling, pus or fever
- Shortness of breath or chest pain
- Persistent dizziness, rapid heart rate or fainting
- Leg swelling, warmth and tenderness
- Nerve damage symptoms like numbness, tingling or weakness
Prompt medical care is advised if biopsy test side effects do not subside within a few days or seem to worsen at any point after your biopsy.
When Biopsies Are Necessary
While all medical tests carry some degree of risk, biopsies are considered very safe procedures when performed by trained medical professionals. They provide vital clinical information to identify certain conditions. Biopsies are often needed to:
- Diagnose cancer and determine the type and stage
- Evaluate lumps or abnormalities found through exams and imaging tests
- Monitor cancers and their response to treatment
- Identify infections and other disease conditions
- Assess the health of certain organs.
Talk to your health care provider about whether a biopsy is recommended in your situation. Understand the key benefits and risks involved. Make sure you get clear instructions on preparing for the procedure and caring for yourself afterward. Stay on top of any side effects of biopsy test and follow up promptly about your results. Being well-informed will help ensure you have a smooth biopsy experience and get the critical answers you need.