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Heart Disease Health Center

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Heart Disease and the Heart Biopsy

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What Can I Expect During a Heart Biopsy?

  • A health care provider will explain the heart biopsy to you, including the potential risks.
  • After you change into a hospital gown, a nurse will start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm so that medications and fluids can be given during the procedure.
  • You will lie on your back on a special table. If you look above, you will see a large camera and several TV monitors.
  • A mild sedative medication will be given before the procedure to help you relax, but you will be awake during the procedure.
  • The doctor will use a local anesthetic to numb the area of your neck. A plastic introducer sheath (a short, hollow tube through which the catheter is placed) is inserted through a small incision and into a blood vessel in the neck. A bioptome is inserted through the sheath and threaded to the right ventricle. X-rays, called fluoroscopy, are used to position the bioptome properly.
  • The bioptome is used to obtain samples of the heart muscle. Each sample is about the size of the head (top) of a pin.
  • When the samples have been collected, the catheter and sheath will be removed and firm pressure will be held over the area to stop bleeding.
  • The procedure takes about 30 to 60 minutes. However, the preparation and recovery add several hours. You should be able to go home the same day of the procedure.

What Can I Expect After a Heart Biopsy?

Before you go home, a health care provider will tell you how to care for the wound site and when you can return to your regular activities.

When the results of the heart biopsy are available, your doctor will discuss them with you. If the results are negative, it means the heart tissue that was analyzed looked normal. A positive biopsy result could mean a cause of heart failure was found, such as inflammation due to an infection. If the biopsy followed a heart transplant, it may indicate the presence of rejection cells.

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