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Adrenal Gland Biopsy


An adrenal gland biopsy is a procedure done to take a tissue sample from your adrenal gland. A biopsy is usually done if your healthcare provider wants to check a tumor on the adrenal gland for cancer.


Before your procedure:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.
  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.
  • Pre-op care: You may be given medicine right before your procedure to make you feel relaxed and sleepy.
  • Local anesthesia: This is a shot of medicine put into your skin to make you more comfortable during your procedure. It is used to numb the area where your biopsy will be done. You may still feel pressure or pushing during your procedure after you get this medicine.

During your procedure:

  • You will be taken to the room where your procedure will be done. Your healthcare provider will clean the skin area where your procedure will be done. You will be placed lying on your back, side, or stomach.
  • A CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound may be used to guide your healthcare provider during your biopsy. In some cases, a special scope may be put through a small incision in your abdomen. The scope is a long tube with a light and camera on the end. A long biopsy needle will then be inserted through your skin, or scope, and into your adrenal gland. Your healthcare provider may need to insert the needle more than once to get enough tissue for testing. The needle and scope will be removed once your healthcare provider has a large enough tissue sample for testing.

After your procedure:

The tissue sample will be sent to a lab for tests. You will be taken to a room where you will rest until you are fully awake. Do not try to get out of bed until your healthcare provider says it is OK. Once your healthcare provider sees that you are OK, you may be able to go home. If you are staying in the hospital, you will be taken to your room. Your healthcare provider will check your biopsy area soon after your procedure.


  • You may have an allergic reaction to the anesthesia used for your procedure. You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. The tissue sample taken may be too small for testing and you may need another biopsy. Your pancreas and other nearby organs may become inflamed or be damaged during your procedure. The scope or needle used may cut into your chest lining and cause air to get inside. Air in your chest lining may cause your lungs to collapse. If the mass in your adrenal gland is cancer, this procedure may cause your cancer to spread.
  • An adrenal biopsy may also lead to a hypertensive crisis (severe high blood pressure). This may occur if you have a type of adrenal gland tumor called a pheochromocytoma and it is punctured during your biopsy. A hypertensive crisis may be life-threatening and you may die. Without this procedure, you may not learn if the tumor in your adrenal gland is cancer. Your healthcare provider may not be able to plan the best treatment for your condition. Call your healthcare provider if you are worried or have questions about your procedure, condition, or care.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.