A biopsy is a medical procedure that involves the removal of a small sample of tissue from a patient’s body for further examination. Biopsies are primarily performed to diagnose diseases, especially cancer, by examining the tissue under a microscope and conducting additional tests as needed. Biopsies can also be used to monitor disease progression, guide treatment decisions, and assess the effectiveness of a treatment.
There are several types of biopsies, including:
- Needle biopsy: This is the most common type of biopsy, where a needle is inserted through the skin to collect a sample of tissue. There are two main types of needle biopsies: a. Fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy: A thin, hollow needle is used to extract a small amount of tissue or fluid from the affected area. b. Core needle biopsy: A larger needle is used to remove a cylinder-shaped tissue sample, providing more information about the tissue than FNA.
- Incisional biopsy: In this type of biopsy, a surgeon makes an incision in the skin and removes a small portion of the suspicious tissue. This method is typically used when a larger tissue sample is needed for diagnosis.
- Excisional biopsy: This method involves the complete removal of a suspicious lump or mass, along with a small amount of surrounding healthy tissue. Excisional biopsies are often performed on smaller tumors and may also serve as a treatment if the entire tumor is removed.
- Punch biopsy: This type of biopsy is commonly used for skin lesions. A circular blade called a punch is used to remove a small, cylindrical sample of tissue, including all layers of the skin.
- Endoscopic biopsy: An endoscope, a flexible tube with a light and camera at its tip, is inserted through a natural body opening or a small incision to visualize the affected area and collect tissue samples. This method is commonly used for biopsies of the gastrointestinal tract, lungs, or other internal organs.
- Bone marrow biopsy: This procedure is used to collect a sample of bone marrow, usually from the hip bone, to diagnose blood-related disorders, such as leukemia or lymphoma. It involves the insertion of a special needle into the bone to extract a small amount of bone marrow tissue.
The choice of biopsy method depends on various factors, including the size, location, and accessibility of the suspicious tissue, as well as the patient’s overall health and the potential risks associated with the procedure. After the biopsy, the collected tissue samples are sent to a laboratory, where a pathologist examines them under a microscope and conducts additional tests to determine the nature of the disease, its stage, and other relevant information that helps guide treatment decisions.