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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:47 pm
A biopsy (BY-op-see) is a procedure in which a small piece of tissue is removed from the body, so it may be screened for cancer or other diseases. Biopsies may be performed in several different ways. The parts of the body with natural openings to the surface, such as the bronchial system, intestines, or bladder, are areas commonly explored through endoscopic (in-doe-SCOP-ik) biopsy. Here, tissue is removed with the use of fiberoptic endoscopes, long tubes which give the doctor an interior view of the body, as they probe to obtain the needed specimen. Most biopsies of internal organs, such as the kidneys or liver, are conducted by fine needle aspiration, where a long, thin needle is passed through the skin and into the organ. Those involving skin disorders are normally done by directly 'punching' or cutting out a small section of tissue, using local anesthesia. When an entire organ or lump is removed, this is called an excisional (ex-SIH-zhun-ul) biopsy. If only part of a lump is taken out, the procedure is known as incisional biopsy. Once the biopsy has been performed, the specimen is sent to a laboratory for examination, and the results are relayed to the primary physician. For more information on biopsies, contact a health care provider.

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