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  • A biopsy is the removal of one or more small samples of tissue for testing to help diagnose or describe disease or learn if cancer has spread.
  • Follow your child’s healthcare provider’s instructions before the procedure about eating, drinking, and taking medicines.
  • Ask your child’s healthcare provider how and when you will get your child’s test results and how to take care of your child at home.


What is a biopsy?

A biopsy is the removal of one or more small samples of tissue for testing. After tissue is removed, it is sent to a lab where it is tested or viewed under a microscope. Biopsies can help healthcare providers diagnose or describe disease, learn if cancer has spread, and plan treatment.

The type of biopsy your child has depends on the part of the body and tissue needed. Your child may need urine or blood tests before the biopsy. Imaging tests such as ultrasound or MRI may be done before or at the same time as the biopsy.

Common types of biopsies are:

  • Bone marrow biopsy. A bone or bone marrow biopsy is the removal of tissue from the bone. It may be done to look for blood or bone cancer or other problems. This type of biopsy is done using a needle put through the skin and into the bone.
  • Endoscopic biopsy, including laparoscopic biopsy. An endoscopic biopsy is the removal of a sample of tissue from the digestive system, lungs, bladder, or other organs. This type of biopsy is done with a small, lighted tube passed into your child’s body through the mouth, rectum, or bladder. With a laparoscopic biopsy, the scope is put into the belly through small cuts, and a sample of tissue is removed.
  • Skin biopsy. A skin biopsy is the removal of a piece of skin with different types of sharp tools. Your child may need stitches to close the skin if a large area is removed.
  • Needle biopsy. A needle biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue from your child’s body with a needle. This method may be used for biopsies of the kidney, liver, or other organs. X-rays, CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound may be used to put the needle in exactly the right place. A fine needle biopsy is used to collect small tissue samples, and a core needle biopsy collects larger tissue samples.
  • Surgical biopsy. A surgical biopsy is the removal of a sample of tissue from a part of your child’s body. There are two main types of surgical biopsy:
    • An incisional biopsy, which is a cut through the skin to remove a small piece of tissue
    • An excisional biopsy, which is a cut through the skin to remove all abnormal tissue
  • Lymph node biopsy. A lymph node biopsy is a procedure done to remove lymph nodes for lab tests. Before a sentinel lymph node biopsy, contrast dye or other liquid is injected to show the first lymph nodes where cancer cells are likely to spread. Those nodes are removed during the biopsy.

How do I prepare my child for this procedure?

  • This surgery is usually an outpatient procedure, which means that your child may be able to go home the same day or the day after surgery. Talk to your child’s healthcare provider about where your child will have surgery.
  • Your child may or may not need to take their regular medicines the day of the procedure. Tell your healthcare provider about all medicines and supplements your child takes. Some products may increase the risk of side effects. Ask your healthcare provider if your child needs to avoid taking any medicine or supplements before the procedure.
  • Tell your child’s healthcare provider if your child has any food, medicine, or other allergies such as latex. Tell the healthcare provider about any medical problems your child has, including problems with sedation, anesthesia, or sleep apnea.
  • Your child’s provider will tell you when your child needs to stop eating and drinking before the procedure. This helps to keep your child from vomiting during the procedure.
  • Tell your child's healthcare provider if your older child is or may be pregnant or is breastfeeding.
  • Follow any other instructions your child’s healthcare provider may give you.
  • Ask any questions you have before the procedure. You should understand what your child’s provider is going to do. You have the right to make decisions about your child’s healthcare and to give permission for any tests or procedures.

What happens after the procedure?

Your child will be in the recovery area after surgery until ready to go home. Most people go home the same day. Follow your child’s healthcare provider's instructions.

Ask your child’s provider:

  • How and when you will get your child’s test results
  • How long it will take for your child to recover
  • If there are activities your child should avoid and when your child can return to normal activities
  • How to take care of your child at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if your child has them

Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.

What are the risks of this procedure?

Every procedure or treatment has risks. Some possible risks of this procedure include:

  • Your child may have an infection or bleeding.
  • Other parts of your child’s body may be injured during the procedure.

Ask your child’s healthcare provider how the risks apply to your child. Be sure to discuss any other questions or concerns that you may have.

Developed by Change Healthcare.
Pediatric Advisor 2022.1 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2021-12-07
Last reviewed: 2021-10-15
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2022 Change Healthcare LLC and/or one of its subsidiaries
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