Lung Needle Biopsy – Indications, Preparation, Procedure, Risks

You would be amazed to learn that doctors remove a very small piece of lung for examination by performing lung needle biopsy. A lung needle biopsy is performed in severe complicated cases associated with lung and its tissues.

Doctors perform the biopsy after detecting the abnormalities on chest x-ray or CT scan.

The lung biopsy performed through the chest wall, is known as transthoracic lung biopsy.

Indications for Lung needle biopsy

                    Abnormal condition surrounding the lungs

                    Infections inside the lungs

                    Severe infection on the chest wall

                    To rule out the presence of cancer

Preparation for Lung needle biopsy

Patient should follow the below mentioned guidelines before lung needle biopsy procedure.

                    Patient is asked to not eat 6 – 12 hours prior to the procedure.

                    Patient should avoid certain medications like aspirin, NSAIDs or blood thinners, etc; few weeks before the procedure. However one should discuss with doctor before changing or adjusting the doses of these medications.

                    Doctors usually perform a chest x-ray or chest CT scan before the procedure.

                    Patient is administered with mild sedative for relaxation prior to biopsy.

                    Patient is asked to sign a consent form before the procedure.

                    Patient is asked to avoid coughing and remain as still as possible during the biopsy.

Lung needle biopsy Procedure

                    The exact spot for the biopsy is determined by using a chest x-ray or chest CT scan.

                    Patient is made to sit with his/her arms resting forward on a table. Patient is asked to avoid any coughing and remain still during the biopsy.

                    The small patch of the skin scrubbed and patient is asked to hold his/her breath. Doctor injects the local pain-killing medicine for numbing the area.

                    Doctor makes a small cut of about 0.12 inches into the skin and inserts the biopsy needle into the lung tissue. It is followed by removing a small piece of tissue with the needle.

                    The removed lung tissue is sent to laboratory for further examination. After the procedure, the bleeding is stopped by exerting pressure on the site.

                    Once the bleeding is stopped, a bandage is applied on the operated region. Patient is sent for chest X- ray immediately after the biopsy.

                    The time duration for the entire procedure vary from 30 – 60 minutes. The sample obtained from lung needle biopsy is sent for Lab analysis which takes few days to get completed.

Lung needle biopsy Results

The results of the lung needle biopsy are obtained after the analysis of obtained lung tissues is completed.

Normal Results indicate the presence of normal tissues and absence of any bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

Abnormal Results indicate the presence of following infections.

                    Bacterial or viral infection

                    Fungal lung infection

                    Cancerous cells


Lung needle biopsy Risks

                    Occurrence of collapsed lung called as pneumothorax

                    Higher risk in case of certain lung diseases like emphysema

                    Air leakage from the lung that gets trapped in the chest

                    Risk of excessive bleeding (haemorrhage)