Soft Tissue Biopsy

Doctors use a number of tests to diagnose cancer—including blood tests, physical examination, and imaging studies such as X-ray, CT, MRI, and ultrasound. Most cancer diagnoses also require a biopsy, a sample of tissue, which is examined by a pathologist. From the biopsy, the pathologist can determineswhether it is cancer, what type of cancer, and whether it’s likely to be fast- or slow-growing. This information is key in deciding the best type of treatment.

Sometimes open surgery is needed to obtain a tissue sample. If the abnormality is close enough to the skin surface, imaging can be used to guide biopsy sampling. Columbia's musculoskeletal radiologists use ultrasound imaging to guide soft tissue biopsies.   

How do I get ready for the procedure?

For an ultrasound guided biopsy, no special preparation is needed.

What will happen during the procedure?

When you arrive at our office, we will ask you to change into a gown, and we will escort you to the procedure room. You will lie down on the examination table with the area to be biopsied exposed. The procedure room is equipped with an ultrasound machine which allows our radiologists to pinpoint the exact locations for the biopsy.

When you are comfortable, we will prepare for the biopsy by taking a series of ultrasound images. The imaging itself is painless. We will clean the area to be treated and inject a numbing medicine. When the area is numb, a small incision on your skin will be made. The radiologist will insert a biopsy needle, advance it to the abnormality, and obtain tissue samples from the area. Anywhere from two to six samples may be obtained. After the procedure, a sterile dressing will be applied.

An image guided biopsy procedure takes from about 30 minutes to an hour.

Are there any risks?

Needle biopsy is typically an outpatient procedure with very infrequent complications; less than one percent of patients develop bleeding or infection.

After the test

After a biopsy most people are able to return to their normal routine within 24 hours. We advise you wait until the following day to shower. A pathologist will examine your tissue sample and make a final diagnosis. It may take a few days before the final tissue analysis (pathology report) is ready. Once the results are available, your doctor will talk with you about the next steps in the process.

ColumbiaDoctors/NewYork-Presbyterian Imaging
51 West 51st Street
Suite 300
New York, NY 10019
United States