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Cancer Health Center

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Lymph Node Biopsy

How To Prepare continued...

You will be asked to sign a consent form that says you understand the risks of the test and agree to have it done.

Talk to your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the biopsy, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of the biopsy, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

If you take a blood thinner, you will probably need to stop taking it for a week before the biopsy.

If a lymph node biopsy will be done under local anesthesia, you do not need to do anything else to prepare for the biopsy.

If the biopsy will be done under general anesthesia, follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking, or your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor has instructed you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, do so using only a sip of water. An intravenous line (IV) will be put in your arm, and a sedative medicine will be given before the biopsy. Arrange for someone to drive you home if you are going to have general anesthesia or will be given a sedative.

Other tests, such as blood tests or X-rays, may be done before the lymph node biopsy.

How It Is Done

Fine-needle aspiration biopsy

A needle biopsy of a lymph node near the skin is usually done by a hematologist, a radiologist, or a general surgeon. A needle biopsy of a lymph node deeper within the body is usually done by a radiologist using a CT scan or ultrasound to help guide the needle. The biopsy may be done in a surgery clinic or the hospital.

You may need to take off all or some of your clothes. If needed, you will be given a cloth or paper covering to use during the biopsy.

Your doctor numbs the area where the needle will be inserted. Once the area is numb, the needle is put through the skin camera.gif and into the lymph node. You must lie still while the biopsy is done. The biopsy sample is sent to a lab to be looked at under a microscope.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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