A lung biopsy takes a small sample of your lung to test it for lung disease, cancer or another condition.
What is a lung biopsy?
A lung biopsy is a procedure performed to remove a tissue sample from one of your lungs for examination under a microscope to determine if lung disease or cancer is present.
There are several types of lung biopsy:
- Needle biopsy – under local anaesthetic and using CT or fluoroscopy guidance a needle is inserted through your skin into your lung to the suspected tumour. The needle removes a small amount of tissue for testing in a laboratory. It is also known as a percutaneous needle biopsy.
- Bronchoscopy and biopsy – under local anaesthetic and sedation a long, thin tube with a tiny camera, called a bronchoscope, is placed down your throat. It passes through your windpipe and down into the main airways of the lungs. It is performed if a CT scan shows you may have cancer in the central part of your chest. A bronchoscopy allows your doctor to see inside your airways and remove a small biopsy sample of cells.
- Endobronchial ultrasound scan (EBUS) – is a newer procedure that combines bronchoscopy with an ultrasound scan. The ultrasound probe also allows your doctor to locate the lymph nodes in the centre of your chest and take a biopsy from them. It can show if cancerous cells are there and what type they are.
- Thoracoscopic biopsy – usually under general anaesthetic, two or three small cuts are made in your chest to pass a flexible and lighted endoscope tube into your chest. Biopsy samples are taken using tiny tools used through the endoscope and sent to a laboratory. This is also called a thoracoscopy or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) biopsy. Treatment can be performed at the same time such as removing a nodule. You may need to stay in the hospital overnight while any fluid in your lungs is drained.
- Open biopsy - under general anaesthetic a cut is made near your chest cavity to retrieve a lung sample such as a wedge or a lobe of your lung. It is performed if other biopsy procedures have failed to get a large enough sample to obtain a diagnosis. You will stay overnight in the hospital after an open biopsy.
What are the functions of the lungs?
Your lungs are part of your respiratory system. This is a group of organs and tissues that work together to help you breathe. They move fresh air into your body and remove waste gases.
The main function of your lungs is respiration, better known as breathing. During respiration, oxygen from the air you breathe enters your bloodstream via your lungs and is carried through your body to every cell in your body. The oxygen is exchanged for carbon dioxide, waste gas from your metabolism, at each cell. Carbon dioxide is carried in your blood to your lungs where it leaves your blood and is exhaled.
How long does it take for a lung biopsy?
The time it takes to perform a lung biopsy will depend on the type of biopsy being performed. For example, a needle biopsy can take 30 to 60 minutes, a bronchoscopy with a biopsy can take around 90 minutes, and an open biopsy make take an hour or more.
Do they put you to sleep for a lung biopsy?
You may be put to sleep and given a general anaesthetic for a lung biopsy. Typically, if you are having a thoracoscopic or open lung biopsy you will be put to sleep. Needle biopsies and bronchoscopy and biopsies are usually performed under local anaesthetic.
What are the costs of a lung biopsy?
The cost of a lung biopsy will depend on the type of biopsy performed and your Ramsay hospital of choice.
You will receive a formal quotation price for your lung biopsy procedure following a consultation with one of our expert lung specialists. This formal quote for your surgery will be valid for 60 days.
Ramsay is recognised by all major medical insurers. Lung biopsy procedures are covered by most medical insurance policies. We advise you to obtain written authorisation from your insurance provider before your biopsy.
We have a number of finance options if you are paying for your lung biopsy yourself. These include:
What is the recovery process after a lung biopsy?
The recovery process after a lung biopsy procedure will depend on a range of factors, including the type of procedure, your general health, and if there were any complications.
If you have a general anaesthetic, you may need to stay overnight in the hospital. If you have a local anaesthetic, you may go home after your biopsy once relevant health checks such as your heart rate and breathing are completed by your doctor. You should arrange for someone to take you home.
You may feel some pain afterwards. You will be given pain medicine if you need it. If you had a bronchoscopy and biopsy, you may have a sore throat for a few days. Throat lozenges or gargling may help. You won't be allowed to eat or drink until your gag reflex has returned.
You may have a chest X-ray after your biopsy and a few hours later. This is to check that your lungs are OK.
Recovery will take longer if you have had a thoracoscopic biopsy or an open biopsy.
You will have one or more follow-up appointments to discuss the results of the biopsy.
Once home, you can resume your normal diet and activities as instructed by your healthcare provider. You may need to rest for several days after your lung biopsy and avoid physical activity until your healthcare team advises it is safe.
Lung biopsy at Ramsay Health Care
At Ramsay Health Care, you can rest assured that you are in safe hands. We regularly perform lung biopsies including a percutaneous needle biopsy, bronchoscopy and biopsy, thoracoscopic biopsy and open biopsy if required.
An initial convenient consultation without waiting can simply be booked at a Ramsay Hospital of your choice. Your expert consultant will explain how you need to prepare for your biopsy and what will happen during your procedure.
Specially trained interventional radiologists or lung specialists perform the latest image-guided lung biopsies.
If you require an endoscope lung biopsy, many of our Ramsay hospitals have dedicated state-of-the-art endoscopy suites that are JAG accredited for their high-quality endoscopy services.
You will also benefit from a fast turnaround of biopsy results or further treatment.
All Ramsay hospitals follow strict protocols to control and prevent infection, including Covid 19.