Image-Guided Biopsy 101: What To Expect, How To Prepare, And What Questions To Ask

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Having to undergo an unfamiliar medical procedure tends to fill people with anxiety. But, understanding what the procedure involves is the first step toward gaining the peace of mind they deserve.

We’re all about keeping you informed and worry-free, so, if your doctor has instructed you to get an image-guided biopsy and you’re not completely sure what that entails, here is everything you’ll need to know – plus some extra information to help put any of your fears to rest.

What Is An Image-Guided Biopsy?

An image-guided biopsy uses imaging technology such as x-ray, ultrasound, mammography, CT or MRI to see deep inside the body.

The imaging helps guide the sample collection process, which may involve a fine needle, a core needle, or a vacuum-assisted biopsy. The collected sample is usually a small amount of tissue that will help determine whether the whether the organ or structure is healthy.

The main point of an image-guided biopsy is to better help the doctor performing the biopsy obtain a sample. Biopsies used to be performed unaided. Now, imaging technology can be used in tandem to help more accurately determine the exact location of the tissue that needs to be sampled and avoid injuring nearby structures in the process. Most biopsies are performed at outpatient locations with local anesthesia.

What Should You Expect?

The kind of imaging technology and the kind of incision used for your image-guided biopsy will determine many specific things, such as whether you’ll be standing or laying down, etc. Some things that usually remain the same for outpatient image-guided biopsies involving deep needle incisions, regardless of what imaging technology is used to aid the procedure, are:

  • Changing into designated gown

  • Conscious sedation through IV

  • Anesthesia, either local or general through IV.

  • Recovery time up to 4 hours

How Should You Prepare?

Depending on the procedure, what you will need to do in order to prepare may be different or the same from the suggestions below. Be sure to ask your doctor what steps you should take in order to be ready for your biopsy procedure.

  • Follow any instructions given by the doctor

  • May need to fast for up to 8 hours

  • May need to suspend blood clotting or blood thinning medication

  • Wear loose clothing

  • Have a designated driver to take you home

What Questions Should I Ask?

Asking a lot of questions is a good way to learn more about your procedure and why it’s being done. Being well-informed may even make you feel better and more in control of the situation. It’s your body and your health; if you have a question, ask it! These are a few good questions to talk through with your doctor before your image-guided biopsy:

  1. What kind of imaging technology will be used?

  2. What kind of incision will be made and what device will be used (thin needle, core needle, vacuum assisted?

  3. What kind of sedation or anesthesia will be used?

  4. What steps should I take to prepare for my procedure?

  5. How long is the procedure?

  6. How long is the recovery time?

  7. What is the aftercare like?

  8. Who interprets the results?

  9. When and how will I receive my results?

  10. What are the benefits and the risks?

Still nervous about your upcoming procedure? That’s okay! Book a consultation today to speak to one of our physicians or visit our biopsy procedures page to learn more about the procedure.