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Biopsy - polyps


Definition:

A polyp biopsy is a test that takes a sample of, or removes polyps (abnormal growths) for examination.

Alternative Names:

Polyp biopsy

How the test is performed:

Polyps are growths of tissue that may be attached by a stalk-like structure (a pedicle). Polyps are commonly found in organs with many blood vessels. Such organs include the uterus, colon, and nose.

Some polyps are cancerous (malignant) and the cancer cells are likely to spread. Most polyps are noncancerous (benign). The most common site of polyps that are treated is the colon.

How a polyp biopsy is taken depends on the location:

For areas of the body that can be seen or where the polyp can be felt, a numbing medication is applied to the skin. Then a small piece of the tissue that appears to be abnormal is removed. This tissue is sent to a laboratory. There, it is tested to see if it is cancerous.

How to prepare for the test:

If the biopsy is in the nose or another surface that is open or can be seen, no special preparation is needed. Your health care provider will tell you if you need to not eat or drink anything (fast) before the biopsy.

More preparation is needed for biopsies inside the body. For example, if you have a biopsy of the stomach, you should not eat anything for several hours before the procedure.

Follow your health care provider's instructions exactly. This ensures that the procedure goes smoothly.

How the test will feel:

For polyps on the skin surface, you may feel tugging while the biopsy is being taken. After the numbing medicine wears off, the area may be sore for a few days.

Biopsies of polyps inside the body are done during procedures (for example, EGD or colonoscopy). Usually you will not feel anything during or after the biopsy.

Why the test is performed:

The test is done to determine if the growth is cancerous (malignant). The procedure may also be done to relieve symptoms, such as with nasal polyps.

Normal Values:

Examination of the biopsy shows the polyp to be benign (not cancer).

What abnormal results mean:

Cancer cells are present and may be a sign of a cancerous tumor. Further tests may be needed. Often, the polyp may be removed.

What the risks are:

Risks include:

  • Bleeding
  • Hole (perforation) in organ
  • Infection
References:

Itzkowitz SH, Potack J. Colonic polyps and polyposis syndromes. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 122.


Review Date: 1/24/2013
Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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