This procedure involves taking a tiny sample of tissue through a needle.

The needle is guided into place using an ultrasound or CT.

The sample is sent to a pathology laboratory where it is later analysed. Results are usually available in 2 to 3 days. The report will be sent to your referring doctor who will then give these results to you. The pathology company may also charge a gap for these services. Please discuss this with us if you have any questions.


You will lie or sit in the best way to access the area to be biopsied. The area will be cleaned with antiseptic and local anaesthetic given. For a FNA, the radiologist will use ultrasound or CT to guide a needle into the correct area. If a core biopsy is done, a tiny incision (cut) will be made in the skin before the core needle is inserted. It is often necessary to make more than one pass of the needle to obtain a sufficient sample.

Risks / Side Effects

Potential risks include:

  • Infection at the needle site. Aseptic technique (strict infection control practices) is used to minimise the risk of infection.
  • Bleeding: the needle may puncture an organ or blood vessel. Rarely, excessive bleeding can occur into the biopsy site and may require drainage, blood transfusion or surgery.
  • Bruising: there may be some mild bruising at the site.

The biopsy may not get an adequate sample of tissue, which may require you to have a repeat biopsy.

Before your Scan

It is essential that your previous x-ray, CT and ultrasound films are available at the biopsy. Please bring these with you to your examination.

You may be asked to fast for 6 hours before the procedure.

Please tell us if you are on medication to thin your blood (e.g. Warfarin, Aspirin or Clopidogrel). You may need to stop this medication before the procedure, but you will need to discuss this with your doctor first.

Day hospital admission may be required. It is important that you have someone to drive you home after the procedure.

Other Information

Avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours after the biopsy.

You may remove your dressing/band-aid that night or the next day.

You may have some discomfort after the procedure. If required, a simple analgesic such as paracetamol (Panadol) should give relief. Do NOT take Aspirin. An ice-pack on the area may also provide some relief.

Bleeding and infection are potential complications. Please note:

  • By the time you have been discharged it is unlikely any further bleeding will occur.
  • If you notice any increased redness, swelling, fever or pain, notify your referring doctor or immediately call the clinic where the injection was performed.
  • If your biopsy was in the abdomen, increasing shoulder tip pain should also be reported to your referring doctor or the clinic where the injection was performed.

If you have not been contacted about your results in 1 to 2 weeks, please contact your referrer.

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