Mercy Medical Center North Iowa

Image Guided Needle Biopsy

Why do I need an Image Guided Needle Biopsy [MC]?

Your doctor has recommended that you have a needle biopsy to determine the cause for a "suspicious" area in your body.  A radiologist will perform the exam. Just a small specimen taken through the needle can make a diagnosis of tumor, infection, or other process.  Different types of tumors can be differentiated as well.
The Day Before Your Biopsy:
A nurse from the Mercy Imaging Services Department will call you to provide information regarding your hospital arrival time and where to check in. The nurse will need to know about your current medications, allergies and whether you are taking any blood thinners like Aspirin, Coumadin, or Heparin.
The Day of your Biopsy:
  1. Do not eat or drink anything for eight hours before your procedure time.
  2. Take your usual morning medications with sips of water unless you have been otherwise instructed.
  3. Bring a driver with you, as you may be sedated during the exam and unable to safely drive yourself home afterwards.
  4. Wear comfortable clothing, like a jogging or sweat suit.
  5. Check in at the admitting area at the time specified.  Remember to bring your insurance information with you.
  6. If you have not had any lab work drawn at your doctor's office, some may be done at this time.
  7. You will then be taken to the Radiology Department, assisted into a gown and an IV will likely be started, so medication may be given to help you relax and feel more comfortable, if needed.
  8. The physician and/or nurse will discuss the procedure with you and your family to make sure you understand the procedure.  

    If you agree, you will be asked to sign a consent form.  This gives the physician permission to perform the biopsy.
What Can I Expect?
You will be assisted to a table and hooked up to a vital signs monitor.  The skin over the biopsy area will be cleansed with special soap and a sterile drape will be applied.  It is important that you not touch this area.  Some sedative may be given through your IV and the physician will numb the biopsy site with a medication like novocaine.  Once numbed, you should not feel much of the biopsy needle.  If you do, please mention it so that more numbing medication and/or sedative can be given.  We want to keep you comfortable and prevent any pain.

The radiologist uses x-rays or ultrasound imaging to guide the skinny needle to the target area. Tiny tissue samples will be taken through the needle and sent to pathology.  here will then be a waiting period while a pathologist checks the samples.  The procedure will be finished as soon as enough tissue is retrieved to make a diagnosis.  Often, more than one sample is needed, so each time a pass is made, procedure time is added.
After the Procedure
Once the procedure is completed, you may need to stay in the hospital for one to four hours depending on the area biopsied.  You may be taken to the Observation Unit where the nursing staff will watch you closely.
Duration of Procedure:
The duration of the procedure will depend on what area is biopsied. You will be in the Mercy Imaging Services Department one to three hours.  Your family is welcome to wait in the main hospital waiting room while the procedure is being performed and if the procedure lasts more than 90 minutes, we will update them on its progress.

The pathologist who examines your biopsy specimen will report the findings to the physician who ordered the test, who will then contact you.  Pathology report processing usually takes two to three days. If you have not heard from your physician within a  few days, feel free to contact him/her.

 Please note:  Variations in exam technique may occur, depending on your diagnosis and condition at the time of the biopsy.  Our goal is to obtain a complete and diagnostic biopsy.

If you have any questions, ask your health care provider or call the Mercy Imaging Services: 
or 1-800-433-3883, ext. 7200.