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Biopsies

A biopsy is the removal of tissue in order to examine it for disease. The tissue samples can be taken from any part of the body. Biopsies are performed in several different ways. Some biopsies involve removing a small amount of tissue with a needle while others involve surgically removing an entire lump, or nodule, that is suspicious.

Often, the tissue is removed by placing a needle through the skin to the area of abnormality. Biopsies can be safely performed with imaging guidance such as ultrasound, X-ray, computed tomography (CT), or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These types of imaging are used to determine exactly where to place the needle and perform the biopsy.

fileClick here to view the biopsy brochure.

Location and Contact Information

To make a biopsy appointment, please visit the Make an Appointment page.

Markham Site

We suggest parking in the main hospital parking lot, opposite the Link Lobby Entrance and Medical Office Building, when visiting diagnostic services.

Please go to the central registration desk on the main floor of Building A, before heading to diagnostic services on the second floor in Building B where you'll be directed to the designated waiting room.

For more information on parking, please click here.

Care Providers

Imaging-guided needle biopsies are most often performed by a specially trained radiologist or interventional radiologist assisted by a nurse and /or imaging technologist.

What You Should Know

Most needle biopsies are performed in an outpatient setting with minimal preparation necessary.

You may be instructed to not eat or drink for eight hours before your biopsy. However, you may take your routine medications with sips of water. If you are diabetic and take insulin, you should talk to your physician as your usual insulin dose may need to be adjusted.

Blood thinners should not be used for seven days before your biopsy.

Aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories such as Advil or Motrin should not be used for seven days before your biopsy.

You may want to have a relative or friend accompany you and drive you home afterward.

Before Your Visit

For lung, liver or renal/kidney biopsies:do not have any food or drink for eight hours before your procedure.

For prostate, wrist or thyroid biopsies: you may eat and drink as normal before your procedure.

Please do not wear jewellery or perfume on the day of your visit.

Please arrive 30 minutes before your test to register at the central registration desk in the main lobby. Please bring your health card and your requisition (if your physician has provided you with one).

During Your Visit

The biopsy will take approximately one to one and a half hours to complete, depending on the procedure you are having.

For lung, liver or renal/kidney biopsies: you will need to have blood work done on the morning of your procedure. You will also be required to stay at the hospital for three to four hours after your biopsy for monitoring.

For prostate, wrist or thyroid biopsies: you will be required to stay at the hospital for 30 minutes after your biopsy for monitoring.

After Your Visit

Rest for 24 hours following your biopsy.

Leave the dressing or band-aids intact for 24 hours.

If pain medication is needed, you may take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) only; do not take aspirin for two days after the procedure.

Call your physician if you experience severe bleeding, pain, swelling, excessive bruising or significant redness and heat.

Call your physician for results and follow up; it may take seven to 10 working days for your physician to receive your results.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Why are biopsies performed? When a nodule is detected, imaging tests may be performed to help determine if it is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If imaging studies cannot clearly define the abnormality, a biopsy may be necessary.
 What body parts are usually biopsied? Biopsies are performed in many areas of the body and for many reasons. The following is a list of common biopsy types: Bone; Breast; Kidneys; Liver; Lung; Thyroid; and Prostate.
 How long does the procedure take? The procedure is usually completed within one hour. You may be required to stay in an area for observation for several hours after the biopsy, depending on the type of biopsy performed.

Additional Resources

The Medical Imaging Team resources for patients and health care professionals – imagingteam.ca

Radiology information resources – radiologyinfo.org