Skip to main content

Needle Biopsy of the Lung

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about a needle biopsy of the lung?

A needle biopsy of the lung is a procedure to remove cells or tissue from your lung. The samples are collected and tested for inflammation, infection, or cancer.

The Lungs

How do I prepare for a needle biopsy of the lung?

  • Your healthcare provider will tell you how to prepare. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of the procedure. Arrange to have someone drive you home after the procedure.
  • Tell your provider about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for the procedure, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of the procedure.
  • You may need blood tests before your procedure. You also may need a chest x-ray, ultrasound, or a CT scan. Contrast liquid may be used to help your lung show up better in the pictures. Tell your provider if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast liquid.

What will happen during the procedure?

  • Your healthcare provider will use tests, such as a CT scan or fluoroscopy, to help guide the procedure. He or she will mark the biopsy area on your skin. 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 it. You will be asked to hold your breath as your healthcare provider puts the needle into your lung. You may have a fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB), or a core needle biopsy (CNB). 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.

What should I expect after the procedure?

It is normal to cough up a small amount of blood. 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 will be able to go home or you will be taken to your hospital room.

What are the risks of a needle biopsy of the lung?

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. A life-threatening embolism (air bubble or blood clot) may go to your heart or brain and cause a heart attack or stroke. The results of your lung biopsy may not show a certain problem or disease.

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.

© Copyright Merative 2022 Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes.

Further information

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