Percutaneous Needle Biopsy

This information will help you prepare for your percutaneous (pur-kyoo-tay-nee-uhs) needle biopsy procedure at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK).

During your percutaneous needle biopsy, your interventional radiologist will insert a needle through your skin to collect a sample of tissue. An interventional radiologist is a doctor who specializes in image-guided procedures. They may use computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, or fluoroscopy (realtime x-rays) to find the area to biopsy. The sample is sent to the laboratory for testing and evaluation.

The procedure usually takes less than 1 hour. Your interventional radiologist will explain the procedure to you and give you time to ask any questions before you sign a consent form.

Before Your Procedure

Ask about your medications

You may need to stop taking some of your medications before your procedure. Talk with your doctor about which medications are safe for you to stop taking. We have included some common examples below.

If you take medication that affects the way your blood clots, ask the doctor performing your procedure what to do. The doctor’s contact information is listed at the end of this resource. Some examples of these medications are:

apixaban
(Eliquis®)
dalteparin
(Fragmin®)
meloxicam
(Mobic®)
ticagrelor
(Brilinta®)
aspirin
 
 
dipyridamole
(Persantine®)
 
nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
(Advil®) or naproxen (Aleve®)
tinzaparin
(Innohep®)
 
celecoxib
(Celebrex®)
edoxaban
(Savaysa®)
pentoxifylline
(Trental®)
warfarin
(Coumadin®)
cilostazol
(Pletal®)
enoxaparin
(Lovenox®)
prasugrel
(Effient®)
 
clopidogrel
(Plavix®)
Fondaparinux
(Arixtra®)
rivaroxaban
(Xarelto®)
 
dabigatran
(Pradaxa®)
heparin
(a shot under your skin)
sulfasalazine
(Azulfidine®, Sulfazine®)
 
 

Whether they recommend you stop taking it will depend on the reason you are taking it. Do not stop taking any of these medications without talking with your doctor.

Please review the information in the resource Common Medications Containing Aspirin and Other Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). It includes important information about medications you’ll need to avoid before your procedure and what medications you can take instead.

If you take insulin or other medications for diabetes, you may need to change the dose before your procedure. Ask the doctor who prescribes your diabetes medication what you should do the morning of your procedure.

If you take any diuretics (medications that make you urinate more often), you may need to stop taking them the day of your procedure. Some examples are furosemide (Lasix®) or hydrochlorothiazide. Speak with your doctor.

Arrange for someone to take you home

You must have someone 18 years or older take you home after your procedure. If you don’t have someone to do this, call one of the agencies below. They will provide someone to accompany you home; however, there is usually a charge for this service and you will also need to provide transportation.

In New York:

  • Partners in Care: 888-735-8913
  • Prime Care: 212-944-0244

In New York or New Jersey:

  • Caring People: 877-227-4649

Tell us if you’re sick

If you develop any illness (fever, cold, sore throat, or flu) before your procedure, please call a nurse in Interventional Radiology at 212-639-2236. A nurse is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, call 212-639-2000 and ask for the Interventional Radiology fellow on call.

Note the time of your appointment

A staff member from Interventional Radiology will call you 2 business days before your procedure. They will tell you what time you should arrive at the hospital for your procedure. If your procedure is scheduled on a Monday, you will be called on the Thursday before. If you don’t receive a call by 12:00 pm the business day before your procedure, please call 212-639-5051.

If you need to cancel your procedure for any reason, please call the doctor who scheduled it for you.

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The Day of Your Procedure

Between midnight and up until 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time, you may drink a total of 12 ounces of clear liquids (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. 12 ounces of clear liquid

Examples of clear liquids include:

  • Water
  • Clear broth, bouillon, or consommé (no particles of dried food or seasonings) 
  • Gelatin, such as Jell-O® 
  • Clear fruit juices (no pulp), such as white cranberry, white grape, or apple 
  • Soda, such as 7-Up®, Sprite®, ginger ale, seltzer, or Gatorade® 
  • Coffee or tea, without milk or cream 

Things to remember

  • Take your medications the morning of your procedure as instructed by your doctor. Take them with a few sips of water.
  • Don’t apply cream or petroleum jelly (Vaseline®). You can use deodorant and light moisturizers. Don’t wear eye makeup.
  • Remove any jewelry, including body piercings.
  • Leave all valuables, such as credit cards and jewelry, at home.
  • If you wear contact lenses, wear your glasses instead, if possible. If you don’t have glasses, please bring a case for your contacts.

What to bring with you

  • A list of the medications you take at home
  • Medications for breathing problems (such as inhalers), medications for chest pain, or both
  • A case for your glasses or contacts
  • Your Health Care Proxy form, if you have completed one
  • If you use a C-Pap or Bi-pap machine to sleep at night, please bring your machine with you, if possible. If you can’t bring your machine with you, we will give you one to use while you are in the hospital.

Where to go

  • Memorial Hospital

    1275 York Avenue (between East 67th and East 68th Streets), New York, NY 10065

    Parking at MSK is available in the garage on East 66th Street between First and York Avenues. To reach the garage, enter East 66th Street from York Avenue. The garage is located about a quarter of a block toward First Avenue, on the right (north) side of the street. A pedestrian tunnel connects the garage to the hospital. For questions about pricing, call 212-639-2338. There are also nearby commercial garages on East 69th Street between First and Second Avenues and on East 65th Street between First and Second Avenues.

    When you arrive at Memorial Hospital, take the M elevator to the 2nd floor. Enter through the glass doors and check in at the desk.

  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Westchester

    500 Westchester Avenue, West Harrison, NY 10604

    When you enter the building, check in at the reception desk and they will direct you to Interventional Radiology

What to expect

Once you arrive at the hospital, doctors, nurses, and other staff members will ask you to state and spell your name and date of birth many times. This is for your safety. People with the same or similar names may be having procedures on the same day.

Your nurse will put in an intravenous (IV) line in your hand or arm. You will be brought into the procedure room. You will receive medication through your IV to make you feel drowsy.

Your skin around the biopsy area will be cleaned and covered with a drape. You will get an injection to numb the site.

Your interventional radiologist will insert the biopsy needle and check its position with MRI, CT, ultrasound, or fluoroscopy. When the needle is in the right place, your radiologist will take the biopsy. The sample will be checked to make sure there is enough tissue. If there is enough, your interventional radiologist will remove the needle. If there is not enough, they will take another sample.

When the procedure is finished, the site will be cleaned and covered with a bandage.

 

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After Your Procedure

In the recovery room

You will be taken to the recovery room, where you will stay for up to 3 hours. Tell your nurse if you:

  • Have increasing pain or discomfort
  • Feel lightheaded
  • Have any shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Have any symptoms that concern you

At home

  • You may resume your normal diet right away.
  • You may shower the day after your procedure. Remove the bandage before you shower. Replace it with an adhesive bandage (Band-Aid®) after your shower. Do not take a tub bath or submerge the biopsy area in water for 24 hours after your procedure.
  • You may resume your normal activities the day after the procedure.
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Call Your Interventional Radiology Doctor or Nurse if You Have:

  • Increased pain at the site of the biopsy
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Any other symptom(s) that concerns you
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Contact Information

If you have any questions or concerns, please call Interventional Radiology at 212-639-2236. You can reach a staff member Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call 212-639-2000 and ask for the fellow on call for Interventional Radiology.

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