CT guided biopsy

Your doctor has requested a CT-guided biopsy. The CT scanner uses X-rays and advanced computer programs to create detailed images inside your body. This is a minimally invasive procedure that can usually be done without an overnight stay in the hospital. During a biopsy, one of our physicians will use images generated by a CT scanner (also called a cat scan) to accurately insert a needle into the tissue or organ, allowing a sample to be removed for testing. Our team of expert physicians, nurses and technologists is led by Cindy Kallman, MD, chief, Body CT.


  • Do not eat or drink anything 6 hours before your procedure.
  • Please arrive 90 minutes before the scheduled procedure time.
  • Please plan to be at the hospital for 4-5 hours, barring any complications.
  • CT-guided biopsy is done on an outpatient basis. You MUST have someone available to drive you home.
You should continue to take your usual medications on schedule, unless this conflicts with the following precautions:

Most blood thinners should not be taken for 5 days prior to the procedure. Please alert the Procedure Scheduler if you are on blood thinners, so that we may give you instructions that are specific for your situation.

Additionally, please notify us prior to the procedure if you are taking anti-inflammatory medications such as Aspirin, Advil, Motrin or Naprosyn, as you will need to be off of these medications for several days prior to the CT-Guided Biopsy.

What to expect:
Prior to the biopsy, you will meet with an interventional radiologist who will explain the test and answer any questions that you may have. During the procedure you will lie on the table on your back, stomach or side, depending on the location that needs to be biopsied. CT scanning is then performed to locate the suspicious or abnormal area. The overlying skin is cleaned and a numbing medication will be used.

You will be asked to hold very still and at times to hold your breath. The radiologist will place a needle through the skin into the lesion and remove a tissue sample. Aside from a slight sting from the numbing medication, this procedure is relatively painless. The biopsy itself usually takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes. Following the procedure, a pathologist will analyze the tissue samples, and a report will be sent to your doctor. This will help your doctor determine the best treatment plan for you.

Potential Complications:
Although CT-guided biopsy is typically well tolerated, with a low incidence of complications, there is a small risk of bleeding or a pneumothorax (collapse of the lung). Bleeding in the lungs is rarely severe enough to cause a serious problem. If a pneumothorax occurs, and the collapse is minor, it typically will resolve on its own. For a larger collapse, a chest tube will need to be placed to re-expand the lung, and you may need to be hospitalized.

It is not uncommon for patients to cough up a small amount of blood for a day or so after the procedure. Please notify us if you continue to cough up blood over several days, cough up large amounts of blood, or develop chest pain, shortness of breath, or a fever greater than 101 degrees.