A needle biopsy of the lung or pleura is done to remove a sample of lung or pleural tissue, or fluid. Pleura is the lining of the lungs and chest wall. Once the tissue is removed, it will be examined in a lab.
Female Torso with Respiratory System and Ribcage (Anterior View)
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This procedure is used to diagnose abnormal tissue in or around the lung. Possible reasons for abnormal tissue are:
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Make sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant.
Your doctor may order:
Leading up to your procedure, do not start taking any new medications without consulting your doctor.
You may be given pre-procedure medications for certain conditions (eg, to suppress a cough).
Talk to your doctor about your medications. You may be asked to stop taking some medications up to one week before the procedure.
Your skin will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. You will be in a seated position, leaning forward, with your arms resting on a table for support. You should remain as still as possible. An ultrasound or CT scan will be used to locate the exact area.
A small cut will be made in your skin. Then, while you hold your breath, the biopsy needle will be inserted through the cut. The needle will be passed between your ribs until it reaches the lung or pleura. Your doctor then withdraws some cells through the biopsy needle. The needle will be withdrawn. Pressure will be put on the site of the incision. When the bleeding stops, a bandage will be applied.
Rest for the first day or two. Your activity may be restricted for up to one week. Follow instructions on caring for the biopsy site to avoid infection.
It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
Canadian Cancer Society
The Lung Association
Light R, Lee G (eds). Textbook of Pleural Diseases. London, England: Arnold; 2003.
Mason RJ. Murray & Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 2005.
Murray JF, Mason RJ. Murray & Nadel’s Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders, 2007.
Ost D, et al. Clinical practice. The solitary pulmonary nodule. N Engl J Med. 2003;348:2535.
Pleural biopsy. Johns Hopkins Medicine website. Available at: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/test_procedures/pulmonary/pleural_biopsy_92,p07757. Accessed February 18, 2015.
Transthoracic needle biopsy. The Merck Manual Professional Edition website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/pulmonary_disorders/diagnostic_pulmonary_procedures/transthoracic_needle_biopsy.html. Updated September 2013. Accessed February 18, 2015.
6/3/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed : Mills E, Eyawo O, et al. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.
Last reviewed February 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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