What is a biopsy?

A biopsy is a procedure done to remove tissue or cells from the body for examination under a microscope. Some biopsies can be done in a doctor's office, while others need to be done in a hospital setting. In addition, some biopsies require use of an anesthetic to numb the area, while others do not require any sedation.

Biopsies are usually done to determine whether a tumor is malignant (cancerous) or to determine the cause of an unexplained infection or inflammation.

How is a biopsy done?

A biopsy can be obtained in various ways, depending on the type of specimen needed. Flexible endoscopes (flexible, fiberoptic tubes with a viewing lens and lights) allow a surgeon to look at the inside of the body through a small incision (cut) and take out a tissue sample. Tissue samples are usually small and taken from tissue that appears changed in structure, such as a tumor.

Types of biopsies

Anatomy of  the skin
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Common biopsy sites

After a biopsy, the tissue specimen is sent to one of the following areas of anatomical pathology to be examined and analyzed:

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Online Resources of Pathology


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