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Needle Biopsy Of The Lung


A needle biopsy of the lung is a procedure to remove cells or tissue from your lung. You may have a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB), or a core needle biopsy (CNB). A FNAB is used to remove cells through a thin needle. CNB uses a thicker needle to remove lung tissue. The samples are collected and tested for inflammation, infection, or 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.
  • Tests: You may need the following tests to find the exact location of your growth or lesion:
    • Chest x-ray: These pictures of your lungs and heart may show growths or fluid around your lungs. A chest x-ray may show a collapsed lung during or after your procedure.
    • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your lungs. The pictures may show the abnormal area of your lung. You may be given a dye before the pictures are taken to help healthcare providers see the pictures better. Tell the healthcare provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.
    • Fluoroscopy: This is a real-time x-ray that allows your healthcare provider to watch as he moves the needle.
    • Ultrasound: An ultrasound uses sound waves to show pictures of your lungs on a monitor.
  • Sedative: This medicine is given to help you stay calm and relaxed.
  • Local anesthesia: Your healthcare provider puts a shot of local anesthesia (numbing medicine) into the skin around your biopsy area. With local anesthesia, you are awake during the procedure. You may feel pressure or discomfort when the needle enters your lung.

During your procedure:

Your healthcare provider will make a small incision in your skin and put a needle through the cut. You will need to hold your breath as your healthcare provider puts the needle into your lung. If you are having a FNAB, your healthcare provider will remove cells through a thin needle and a syringe. If you are having a CNB, your healthcare provider will use a larger needle to remove tissue. The needle will be removed and a bandage will cover the biopsy area.

After your procedure:

After your procedure, you will have a chest x-ray or CT scan to check your lungs. You will be taken to a room to rest. You will lie flat on your stomach or your back. You may need to stay in this position for a few hours. Tell your healthcare provider if you need to change your position or get out of bed. After healthcare providers see that you are okay, you may go home. If you are staying in the hospital, you will be taken to your room.

  • Chest tube: After a lung biopsy, you may have a tube placed into your lung. A chest tube removes air around your lungs to help you breathe better. The chest tube is attached to a container. Call a healthcare provider right away if the tube comes off the container. Tell a healthcare provider if the tubing gets bent or twisted, or if the tape comes loose.
  • You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your healthcare provider before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.


  • A lung biopsy may cause a pneumothorax (collapsed lung). If this happens, you may need a tube in your lung to help remove the air. A lung biopsy may increase your risk for a lung infection or bleeding in your chest. An embolism (air bubble) may go to your heart or brain, cause a heart attack or stroke, and may be life-threatening.
  • The results of your lung biopsy may not show a certain problem or disease. Without this procedure, you may not find out the cause of the abnormal area of your lung. If you have cancer, it may spread to other parts of your body. Without treatment, your condition may worsen or become life-threatening.


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

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