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A biopsy is a procedure in which a doctor places a small hollow needle through the skin and into the area of interest to take out tissue samples or fluid (called specimens). Specimens are sent to the laboratory for analysis. This provides a definitive diagnosis of the selected tissue. Frequently biopsied areas include the bone, liver, thyroid, kidney and other organs.
Depending on the area of interest, the Interventional Radiology team at Children's National Hospital will use either an ultrasound or CT scan for guidance. Your child's doctor will numb the area and insert a needle through the skin, near the area of interest. Then, several small pieces of the lesion (the abnormal spot or growth) will be obtained. Sometimes the doctor inserts a substance called Gelfoam© into the tract (where the needle went into the organ) to minimize the risk of bleeding. The body absorbs the substance, which is harmless.
When finished, we will place a dressing over the needle puncture site.
No. The procedure will be performed with either intravenous (IV) sedation or general anesthesia.
Your child will not feel pain during the procedure but some children may feel pain and discomfort around the biopsy site for a few days following the procedure. This is well controlled with over-the-counter medications but stronger prescription medications may be given.
Generally, a biopsy takes about an hour. The length of time will vary depending on the location of the biopsy.
Biopsies are considered low risk. Risks vary depending on the location of the biopsy. However, potential complications include:
- Injury to surrounding structures such as veins/arteries or adjacent organs
Depending on the biopsy location, your child may experience some discomfort. We may keep them in our recovery area for several hours. Sometimes we will do blood tests or X-rays after the procedure. These steps help us to safely monitor your child.
After the procedure, your child should rest for the remainder of the day. The next day, your child can return to light activities, but should avoid strenuous activity, such as rough playing or contact sports, for one week.
The bandage must stay dry and in place for 48 hours. You may sponge bathe your child during this time, as long as the bandage stays dry. After 48 hours you may remove the bandage and your child can shower or bathe again.
Learn about treatment
Interventional Radiology at Children's National Hospital
Our pediatric interventional radiologists perform a full range of minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to both diagnose and treat disease in infants, children and adolescents. Discover more about the treatment we offer.
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Children’s National interventional radiologists perform a full range of minimally invasive, image-guided procedures to both diagnose and treat disease in infants, children, and adolescents.