Biopsy: Types of biopsy procedure & how it is performed
If someone is asked to take a biopsy it sends chills down his/her spine, because the word implies that there could be cancer. But the upside is that biopsies often rule out cancers.
What is a biopsy? Why is it necessary?
A biopsy is the removal of tissue to examine it for a disease. Although mostly associated with cancer, biopsies are also used to diagnose other diseases such as infections and inflammatory and autoimmune disorders and their progresses.
A biopsy is the main way doctors can diagnose cancer, in most types, and can tell how much it has spread through the tissue.
If your doctor feels something unusual during a physical examination or analysing an image scan report ( MRI, CT scan, or Ultra ), he or she may order for a biopsy to be done as soon as possible, in order to detect or rule out cancer.
How a biopsy is performed?
The procedure involves removal of tissues from the suspected body part(s) and test by a pathologist using a microscope to find out if the cells in the tissue are damaged or have abnormalities.
The tissue sample can be taken from the suspected part of the body - be it an external or an internal part ( an organ ). Some of the common areas are skin, breast, cervical, prostate gland, and also the liver, thyroid, stomach, large bowel, muscles, etc. Biopsies can be of different types. There may be the need of a small amount of tissue that can be removed using a needle, or it may involve removing an entire lump or nodule through a surgical method.
If the internal organs are suspected, the exact area from where the tissue sample is to be collected is decided using the imaging guidance. Endoscopy and Colonoscopy are mostly used to view and remove the tissue sample and polyps(the lumps in the lining of organs) of the esophagus, stomach, and the colon.
If the tissue sample is to be taken externally the area of the skin is disinfected and put under local anesthesia before surgically removing the tissue sample.
What are the different types of biopsy?
If the biopsy requires removing only a portion of the tissue that seems to be abnormal, it is called an incisional biopsy. And when it is required to remove the entire area it is called excisional biopsy. The latter type is used in diagnosis of skin cancer, colon polyps, etc.
How much tissue sample to be collected depends on the affected organ, the size of the possibly abnormal area and the type of tissue.
If a small amount of tissue is required needle biopsies are used. In this procedure, a very thin hollow needle is put into the tissue to be examined. Depending upon the needle diameter, it is possible to take samples of individual cells (fine needle biopsies) or small pieces of tissue (core needle biopsies). Another type of needle biopsy involves a vacuum-assisted device (VAD) that uses a vacuum to obtain larger pieces of tissue.
This involves use of a punch, a round shaped knife, to cut and remove a disk of tissue. This method is used in cervical biopsy.
In this type of biopsy cells are removed from the surface of the tissue by scraping the affected surface. Also known as pap smear this method is often used in cervical biopsy.