Percutaneous Lung Biopsy

What is it?


This procedure is fairly simple and safe, taking not more than 15 or 20 minutes. The procedure is performed in the Interventional Radiology Department by a radiologist (a doctor specializing in diagnosis and treatment using x-rays) who will observe your lungs using x-rays and a television.

During the procedure, some freezing will be put into your skin and a small needle will be passed through into the lung to obtain a sample. You should not feel any discomfort during this process because of the freezing. If you feel discomfort, tell the radiologist.

Where do I go?

Please register at Admitting/Patient Registration, Zone B Level 2 (B2-100).   You will be directed to Day Medicine where you will be prepared for your biopsy which will be done in the CT suite, C1-620. 


As with any procedure, there are some risks that you should be aware of:

Lung Needle Biopsy
  • Air could surround your lung after the needle enters your lung. This only occurs in approximately one-third of the procedures and usually does not require treatment. Occasionally, (1 in 10 cases), air will accumulate around your lung. When this occurs, you will have some chest discomfort and you may be a little short of breath. To relieve these symptoms it may be necessary to insert a small tube into your chest for a day or so to drain off the air and keep your lung inflated.
  • Very rarely (1 in 10,000 cases), significant bleeding may occur requiring surgery to correct the problem.
  • In extremely rare cases (1 in 20,000 - 30,000 cases) where severe lung disease exists, death may occur. The percutaneous lung biopsy procedure is done as an alternate to a major operation (thoracotomy) where you are put to sleep and the chest is opened by a surgeon.

Your doctor has weighed the risks of doing this procedure and felt that the benefits far outweigh its risk.

When you come to the Interventional Radiology Department, you will be asked to sign a consent form before the procedure.

If you have any further questions about this procedure, you may ask your family doctor or the radiologist at the time of the procedure.


  • STOP Coumadin/Plavix 7 days prior to the procedure.
  • STOP Aspirin 5 days prior to the procedure.

After Your Biopsy

Your doctor may ask for this procedure to be done without admitting you to the hospital. If this is the case, you should make arrangements for someone to drive you to the hospital and pick you up after the procedure is over.

You will return to Day Medicine until you are ready to leave the hospital.  You may be in Day Medicine for up to 4 hours and you will have a chest x-ray prior to your discharge.

If you develop air around your lung and require a chest tube, it will be placed into your chest. You may either be admitted or sent home with the chest tube in place to be removed later by your doctor.

If you have any chest pain or shortness of breath, you should go immediately to the Emergency Department and tell the emergency physician that you have just had a lung biopsy and may have a collapsed lung.