Table of contents:


Video: Biopsy

Video: Biopsy
Video: Liver Biopsy 2023, December


A biopsy is the taking of "samples" (eg tissue, fluids) from the human body. This is done on the one hand by inserting a hollow needle over the skin surface and puncturing organs, tissues or cavities, on the other hand by an endoscopic or surgical procedure. Depending on the location and depth, imaging methods such as ultrasound, CT and MRI are often used to plan and perform the puncture.


  • Continue reading
  • more on the subject
  • Advice, downloads & tools
  • When is a biopsy / puncture necessary?
  • What preparations are necessary?
  • How is the examination performed?
  • What are the side effects / complications?
  • Whom can I ask?
  • How are the costs going to be covered?

When is a biopsy / puncture necessary?

A biopsy is used to differentiate between benign, malignant, or inflamed tissue. With the help of the biopsy, the pathologist can determine and precisely classify changes at the cellular level in organs. Biopsies are required to clarify suspicious tumor findings, for example in the mammary gland, thyroid, lungs, liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines, lymph nodes, soft tissues and bones. The result of the biopsy is a decisive criterion for further treatment and the prognosis of the patient.

Certain inflammatory diseases or cancer can lead to symptomatic accumulations of fluids (e.g. seroma, effusion, abscess, malignant effusion) in the cavities of the human body (abdominal cavity, chest cavity). With the help of a targeted puncture, tissue fluid can be sucked off and obtained for further examination, or treated via drainage.

What preparations are necessary?

A biopsy can be done either under local or general anesthesia. In the case of biopsies in the chest and abdomen, nothing should be eaten or drunk for at least four hours before the procedure.

Blood-thinning medications (such as Marcoumar or Sintrom) must be stopped a few days before the biopsy to avoid the risk of major bleeding. In women, the biopsy should, if possible, not be performed during the menstrual period, as the general bleeding tendency is increased during this time. The state of coagulation is determined by a previous blood test.

How is the examination performed?

After disinfection and local anesthesia of the skin, a biopsy needle is advanced into the area of the body to be punctured, either under visual inspection or control by ultrasound, X-ray, CT or MRI. Samples (liquid, individual cells, tissue cylinders, blood or secretion) are then taken. With the help of a needle, a plastic catheter (drainage) can also be positioned at a desired point, through which tissue fluid or pus can drain and the tissue site can be flushed.

After the puncture, the needle is removed and a bandage is applied to the puncture site. A pressure bandage is often required at the puncture site. Depending on the organ, a certain length of time on the punctured side may be necessary after the biopsy in order to avoid secondary bleeding.

What are the side effects / complications?

A biopsy is a routine, low-risk procedure. Depending on which organ is being punctured, whether the region is superficial or deep and the puncture can cause more or less pain, it is decided whether the examination is carried out without anesthesia, under local anesthesia or under general anesthesia.

The following complications rarely occur:

  • Temporary pain and discomfort during and after the biopsy.
  • Slight skin bleeding and bruises, which can be avoided by compressing the puncture site.
  • There is rarely excessive bleeding from organs, which can result in the administration of blood reserves or an interventional or surgical procedure.
  • It is extremely rare for germs to enter the tissue via the puncture site and for infection, which may require the administration of antibiotics.
  • When the lungs or pleura are punctured, air can enter the pleural space and displace the lungs (pneumothorax).
  • When tumor tissue is punctured, it is extremely rare for tumor cells to be carried over via the puncture channel and thus to colonization of daughter tumors (puncture channel metastases).

Taking blood-thinning medication (such as Marcoumar or Sintrom) can cause life-threatening bleeding. You should therefore tell your doctor treating you of your medication before a planned procedure. These must be stopped in good time before the biopsy, your doctor will inform you about this.

Note In the event of pregnancy, a computed tomography-targeted biopsy is not performed because of the use of X-rays!

Whom can I ask?

A biopsy can be performed by resident doctors or in hospitals on an outpatient or inpatient basis. Depending on the organ and the type of intervention, the examination is carried out by specialists from different specialist fields. A referral / referral by your treating doctor is required depending on the situation.

  • You can find specialists in your area under Services: Doctor search.
  • You can find hospitals in your area under Clinic search.

How are the costs going to be covered?

For a biopsy, you will need a doctor's referral / referral. This is valid for one month from the date of issue. The costs of a biopsy are covered by your health insurance company.