What is a Biopsy?

Your doctor has referred you to have a biopsy performed. This is a test performed to provide more information on an area noted on a recent examination. A biopsy is a relatively simple procedure performed by our Radiologists, Dr. Shane Connolly and Dr. Caitlin Kapoor, where a needle is inserted into the area to be sampled and an area is extracted and sent to pathology for analysis. The procedure is performed under ultrasound guidance so the Radiologist can locate the exact area to be biopsied. There are two types of biopsy – fine needle aspiration or core biopsy. Both procedures involve similar steps. A fine needle aspiration can be used to remove a sample of cells and a core needle can be used to remove a very small piece of tissue.

Prior to the procedure, a sonographer (ultrasound specialist) will check your details. Your examination will commence with a brief scan of the area by a sonographer will then use what is called a transducer or probe to scan the area. The probe must be in direct contact with your skin to achieve adequate visualization. The Radiologist will discuss the procedure with you prior to the biopsy. You are encouraged to ask any questions you may have. The Radiologist will locate the area to be biopsied and apply anaesthetic solution to your skin. Local anaesthetic is used to numb the area before a core biopsy but this is often not needed in a fine needle aspiration. The procedure may be uncomfortable, but this is rare. If anaesthetic is required the Radiologist will ensure it has taken affect before the biopsy needle is placed into the area to remove a small sample of tissue. Often a number of samples are required. The doctor will inform you during the procedure how many samples will be required and which needle type will be used.

Are there any risks?

Needle biopsy may cause some bruising and discomfort following the procedure. Firm pressure will be placed on the area after the needle is withdrawn – this is to minimize bruising and subsequent discomfort. There is only a very small risk of infection or serious bleeding. The biopsy does not leave a significant scar – a small band aid or dressing may be used following the biopsy. Please inform the doctor prior to the procedure if you are taking Aspirin, Warfarin, or any other blood-thinning medication, or if you have any allergies.


The biopsy result will usually take at least three working days and will be available from your referring doctor. You will need to make an appointment to see your doctor to discuss the result.