An open lung biopsy is surgery to remove a small piece of tissue from the lung. The sample is then examined for cancer, infection, or lung disease.
Biopsy - open lung
How the test is performed
An open lung biopsy is done in a hospital operating room under general anesthesia, which means you are asleep and pain-free. A tube will be placed through your mouth and into the airway that leads to the lungs.
After cleaning the skin, the surgeon makes a cut in the chest area and removes a small piece of lung tissue. The wound is closed with stitches.
A chest tube may be left in place for 1 - 2 days to prevent the lung from collapsing.
Today, most centers use a technique called video-assisted thoracoscopy, which uses a camera and tiny instruments to biopsy the lung. With this method, only two small cuts are made. There is much less pain and the recovery is much faster.
How to prepare for the test
You should tell the health care provider if you are pregnant, allergic to any medications, and if you have a bleeding problem. Be sure to tell the health care team which medications you are taking (including any herbal preparations).
You will be asked not to eat or drink for 8 to 12 hours before the procedure.
How the test will feel
When you wake up after the procedure, you will feel drowsy for several hours. You may have a mild sore throat from the tube. You will feel some discomfort and pain at the site of the biopsy.
Why the test is performed
The open lung biopsy is done to evaluate lung problems seen on x-ray or CT scan.
The lungs and lung tissue will be normal.
What abnormal results mean
Abnormal results may be due to:
- Benign tumors
- Certain infections (bacterial, viral, or fungal)
- Lung diseases (fibrosis)
The procedure may help diagnose a number of different conditions, such as:
What the risks are
There is a possibility of infection or an air leak into the chest. Your risk depends on whether or not you already have lung disease.
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Review Date: 11/1/2010
Review By: Shabir Bhimji MD, PhD, Specializing in General Surgery, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Midland, TX. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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