Skip to Content

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:

  • Arrange a ride home. Ask a family member or friend to drive you home after your surgery or procedure. Do not drive yourself home.
  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your healthcare provider. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your provider if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.
  • You may need blood tests before your procedure. You also may need a chest x-ray, ultrasound, or a CT scan. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about tests you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.
  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.

The day 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.


What will happen:

  • Your healthcare provider will use tests, such as a CT scan or fluoroscopy, to help guide the procedure. He will mark the biopsy area on your skin. You may be given sedative medicine to help you feel more calm and relaxed. Your healthcare provider will give you an injection of local anesthesia into the skin around your biopsy area. With local anesthesia, you will be awake during the procedure. You may feel pressure or discomfort when the needle enters your lung.
  • Your healthcare provider will make a small incision in your skin and put a needle through the cut. You will be asked to hold your breath as your healthcare provider puts the needle into your lung. During FNAB, your healthcare provider will remove cells through a thin needle and a syringe. During CNB, your healthcare provider will use a larger needle to cut out tissues. The needle will be removed and a bandage will cover the biopsy area.

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 need to lie flat on your stomach or your back. You may need to stay lying down 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.


  • You cannot make it to your procedure on time.
  • You have a fever.
  • You have a new cough.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You cough up blood.
  • You have new chest pain.
  • You have new trouble breathing.


  • 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.

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.

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2018 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or IBM Watson Health

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.