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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.


The week before your procedure:

  • Ask someone to drive you home when you are ready to leave the hospital. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Your healthcare provider may do a physical exam. Your healthcare provider may check for health risks that could lead to post procedure problems. Tell your healthcare provider about any medical problems you have.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to any medicine. You may need to stop any blood thinning medicines before your procedure such as aspirin or heparin. Tell your healthcare provider if you use any over-the-counter medicines, herbs, or food supplements. Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your prescribed medicines when you see your healthcare provider.
  • You may need an ultrasound, CT scan, or an MRI before your procedure. These tests may help your healthcare provider plan the safest way to take a sample of your adrenal gland. Blood tests may be needed to check if you have bleeding problems and your hormone levels. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about these and other tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
  • If you have bleeding problems, you may need a fresh frozen plasma (fluid part of blood) transfusion. The transfusion is normally given through an IV. An IV is a tube placed in your vein for giving medicine or liquids. You may also be given a shot of vitamin K. Ask your healthcare provider more information about these treatments, and if you may need them.

The night before your procedure:

  • Ask your healthcare provider about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.
  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives healthcare providers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
  • Healthcare providers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
  • An anesthesiologist will talk to you before your surgery. You may need medicine to keep you asleep or numb an area of your body during surgery. Tell healthcare providers if you or anyone in your family has had a problem with anesthesia in the past.


What will happen:

  • You will be taken to the room where your procedure will be done. You may be placed lying on your back, side, or stomach. A numbing medicine called anesthesia may be given to keep you free from pain during your procedure.
  • 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.

Waiting area:

This is an area where your family and friends can wait until you are able to have visitors. Ask your visitors to provide a way to reach them if they leave the waiting area.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure.
  • You get a cold or the flu.
  • You have a fever.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have severe pain in the area where you are having 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.

Care Agreement

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.