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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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A biopsy is the removal of a sample of tissue from the body for examination in a laboratory. It is performed to help with diagnosis, to examine the extent of the disease and to help direct treatment.

Usually the procedure is simple with little or no risks, but how a biopsy is taken depends on the age of a child and the organ sampled.

Skin biopsy

A skin biopsy is generally taken in clinic or during a quick ward visit by us or a dermatologist (skin specialist). The skin is numbed with a little local anaesthetic and then a small cut is made.

Other biopsies

Most other biopsies requested in rheumatology are taken using a sterile needle or small cut under a general anaesthetic in theatre.

These biopsies include:

  • Kidney biopsy – performed by a kidney specialist or radiologist.
  • Liver biopsy – performed by a radiologist in Oxford
  • Gut (intestine) biopsy – performed by a gastroenterologist using a tube called an endoscope
  • Bone marrow biopsy – performed by a paediatrician or surgeon

Very rarely a deeper cut and exploration of tissues is required.

More information about how a biopsy is taken is given by the doctor or surgeon performing the procedure.