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Endometrial Biopsy

An endometrial biopsy is a way for your doctor to take a small sample of the lining of the uterus (endometrium camera.gif). The sample is looked at under a microscope for abnormal cells. An endometrial biopsy helps your doctor find problems in the endometrium. It also lets your doctor check to see if your body's hormone levels that affect the endometrium are in balance.

There are several ways to do an endometrial biopsy. Your doctor may use:

  • A soft device shaped like a straw (pipette) to suction a small sample of lining from the uterus. This method is fast and may cause some cramping.
  • An electronic suction device (Vabra aspiration). This method can be uncomfortable.
  • A spray of liquid (jet irrigation) to wash off some of the tissue that lines the uterus. A brush may be used to remove some of the lining before the washing is done.

An endometrial biopsy may be done to find the cause of abnormal uterine bleeding, to check for overgrowth of the lining (endometrial hyperplasia), or to check for cancer.

When a woman is having a hard time getting pregnant, an endometrial biopsy may also be done to see whether the lining of her uterus can support a pregnancy.

An endometrial biopsy is sometimes done at the same time as another test, called hysteroscopy, which allows your doctor to look through a small lighted tube at the lining of the uterus.

Why It Is Done

An endometrial biopsy is done to:

  • Check for cancer of the uterus.
  • Find the cause of heavy, prolonged, or irregular uterine bleeding. It is often done to find the cause of uterine bleeding in women who have gone through menopause.
  • See whether the lining of the uterus (endometrium camera.gif) is going through the normal menstrual cycle changes.

How To Prepare

Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are or might be pregnant. An endometrial biopsy is not done during pregnancy.
  • Are taking any medicines.
  • Are allergic to any medicines.
  • Have had bleeding problems or take blood-thinners, such as aspirin or warfarin (Coumadin).
  • Have been treated for a vaginal, cervical, or pelvic infection.
  • Have any heart or lung problems.

Do not douche, use tampons, or use vaginal medicines for 24 hours before the biopsy. You will empty your bladder just before your biopsy.

You may want to take a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), 30 to 60 minutes before having the biopsy. This can help decrease any cramping pain that can be caused by the biopsy.

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 test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results may mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 22, 2012
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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