Munson Health
Fine Needle Biopsy

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by Kellicker P


To see an animated version of this procedure, click Procedure InMotion.

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Ask your doctor if there are any instructions you should follow before the procedure. Depending on the part of the body that the biopsy is being taken from, your doctor may ask you to:
  • Arrange for a ride home.
  • Have routine blood work.
Talk to your doctor about your medicines. You may be asked to stop taking some medicines up to one week before the procedure, like:
  • Aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Blood thinners
Just before the test, you may be asked to drink a contrast material. This drink will make images clearer on x-rays or CT scans.


Local anesthesia is often used. It will make the area numb. A sedative may also be used to help you relax.

Description of the Procedure

You will be positioned for the easiest access to the area for biopsy. The area where the needle will be inserted will be cleaned. Anesthesia will be applied to numb the area. You will be asked to stay still. A thin, hollow needle will then be inserted through the skin to the site. The needle may need to be inserted more than once. The images may be checked to make sure the needle is in the right place. After the needle is in the proper position, tissue or fluid will be withdrawn. You may feel a pinch, pressure, or nothing at all. After your doctor has the sample, the needle will be removed. The site will be bandaged.

How Long Will It Take?

The length of procedure will depend on the site that is sampled:
  • Simple biopsy of a site that is close to the surface of the skin: a few minutes in most cases
  • Deeper biopsy or one that is guided by an ultrasound or CT scan: 30-90 minutes

Will It Hurt?

The amount of discomfort you feel depends on the part of the body that is being examined. The anesthesia and sedative will prevent pain. You may feel a pinch or pressure. If you feel pain, tell the doctor right away.
After the procedure, the site will be tender. Talk to your doctor about medication to help manage discomfort.

Post-procedure Care

Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. In general, you should take it easy and check the insertion site.
The sample will be examined by a specialist. The results are usually ready in a few days. Your doctor will talk to you about the results.


American Family Physician

National Institutes of Health



Canadian Cancer Society

Health Canada



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