Image-guided biopsy

Using scans to help take tissue samples

Image-guided biopsies are an accurate way of diagnosing cancer, tumours and liver disease.


Your consultant might recommend that you have an image-guided biopsy if they suspect you have cancer, liver disease or if they want to investigate an abnormality further. By using an ultrasound or CT scanner, your consultant can precisely locate the tissue they want to take a sample of.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    In most cases you'll have your scan and biopsy on the same day — but not always. Once you've changed into your hospital gown, your radiologist will inject the area where the biopsy is being taken with local anaesthetic. They will then do an ultrasound or CT scan and use the images it produces to determine the best place to take the tissue sample from. To take the sample, your radiologist injects the biopsy needle into your body and removes a small amount of tissue. They may put a dressing over the affected area. The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes.
  • How to prepare icon plus

    As with all procedures, there may be some risks and side effects involved. ​Your consultant will explain these to you and answer any questions you might have. We ask you not to eat for up to six hours before your scan, and not to drink water up to two hours before.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    You should be able to go home on the same day but depending on the type of biopsy you have, we might need to care for you for longer. Please arrange for someone to drive you home. It's best to rest at home for the next of couple of days, and to avoid any strenuous activity for the following week. You should be able to take your dressing off after 24 hours. As soon as we have your results, we'll let you know.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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