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Brain Biopsy

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Dec 2, 2022.

What do I need to know about a brain biopsy?

A brain biopsy is a procedure to remove a sample of tissue from your brain or tumor. The sample can be tested for cancer, infection, or brain disease.

How do I prepare for a brain biopsy?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for your procedure. The provider may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your procedure. You may need to stop taking aspirin or blood thinner medicine several days before the procedure. Your provider will tell you what medicines to take or not take on the day of your procedure. The night before your procedure you may need to wash your hair with medicated shampoo. This will help prevent an infection.

What will happen during a brain biopsy?

  • You may be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during the procedure. You may instead be given local anesthesia to numb the area, and IV sedation. With local anesthesia, you may still feel pressure or pushing during the procedure, but you should not feel any pain. IV sedation will help you relax during the procedure.
  • Your healthcare provider will make an incision in your head and drill a small hole in your skull. He or she will insert a needle through the hole and into your brain. MRI or CT pictures may be taken to help your provider find the tumor. The provider will remove pieces of the tumor with the needle. Your incision will be closed with stitches or staples. A bandage will be placed over your incision.

What will happen after a brain biopsy?

Healthcare providers will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure, and neuro signs. Neuro signs, or neuro checks, show healthcare providers your brain function. They will check how your pupils react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested. You may go home after your biopsy or may need to spend a night in the hospital. You may feel tired or dizzy, or have a headache. These symptoms should get better in a few days.

What are the risks of a brain biopsy?

You may get an infection or bleed more than expected. Nerves and blood vessels in your brain may be damaged during the biopsy. This may cause problems with your memory, speech, balance, or movement. You may develop a blood clot. This may become life-threatening.

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. 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.

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Further information

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