Biopsy is the acquisition of a small piece of tissue. This tissue is then analyzed by the pathologist in the laboratory. A biopsy can be taken at many places in the body. So there is, among other things, biopsy of the skin, prostate, lungs, stomach, breast, cervix and lymph node.
A biopsy is done when there is suspicion of, for example, an inflammatory disease or cancer. In the latter case is determined, on the basis of the piece of tissue, whether a person has a benign or malignant defect and the pathologist can identify other specific characteristics of the possible tumor.
The pathologist analyzes the removed piece of tissue under the microscope. Sometimes, additional processing steps are required, such as special stainings. The specific characteristics of the tissue are determined in order to let the treatment of the patient fit as well as possible.
A biopsy is often taken through the skin. The doctor then goes with a needle through the skin to the place to be reached. Depending on the location where the biopsy is taken, the patient is sedated or not. This can be done by local or general anesthesia.
A biopsy may also be taken during surgery or endoscopy. The doctor can take biopsies with a kind of pliers in the endoscope. It may be that, during taking the biopsy sample, the doctor is supported by radiological equipment in order to determine the correct location.
The result of a biopsy is usually known only after several days or even weeks. In urgent cases, the evaluation of a biopsy can be accelerated.