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Risks of Biopsy

Needle biopsy is minimally invasive and is typically a very safe procedure. The benefits of percutaneous biopsy often far outweigh the risks. However, as with all invasive procedures, certain risks do exist. Depending upon the site being biopsied and the type of biopsy being performed, risks can include:

  • Infection of the biopsy area
  • Hematoma: (blood blister) pooling of blood trapped inside the biopsy area
  • Hemorrhage: bleeding
  • Vasovagal response: loss of consciousness due to sudden slowing of the heart beat, usually brought on by pain, stress, shock or fear)
  • Rarely more significant complications can occur when structures near the biopsy target are entered with the needle (for example, puncture of lung or bowel)

Surgical biopsy has some additional risks versus needle biopsy:

  • Surgical biopsies require sutures (stitches) and can leave a disfiguring scar, depending on the size of the excision
  • Surgical biopsy carries a small risk of mortality (due to risks of anesthesia)
  • Surgical biopsy causes moderate chances of bleeding, infection, wound healing problems
  • The localizing wire may fracture or migrate during wire localization breast biopsy
  • Surgical biopsy usually requires one day of recuperation at home

Updated: August 15, 2007