Patient Education: Diseases Conditions Treatments & Procedures


Needle biopsy

Check-in location

When you arrive for your needle biopsy you will check in at one of two places (CT Registration, A Wing, Ground Floor, Room AG 256 or Ultrasound Registration, M Wing, Ground Floor Room MG 132). The booking coordinator provided this info to you when your appointment was booked. If you are unsure where to check-in, please call 416-480-4732.


Please arrive on time! Our schedule is very tight and if you arrive late, there is a strong possibility that we will not be able to do your biopsy.

Also – We recommend that a responsible adult accompany you home when you have recovered and stay with you overnight. While many biopsies can be done without sedation, if you do require sedation for your procedure then we will not be able to allow you to leave unaccompanied.

Frequently asked questions

What will happen before my needle biopsy appointment?

Approximately one week before your appointment, you will receive a call from a nurse who will review all the preparation for your biopsy appointment and answer your questions or direct you to the right people to speak to.

What will happen at my needle biopsy appointment?

  • A needle biopsy is a procedure to have a sample of tissue taken with a needle. The sample is sent to a laboratory where it will be examined.
  • The process varies slightly depending on where you check in, but in either case you will be greeted and registered.
  • You will be accompanied to the nursing station where you will then change into a gown and a nurse will insert an IV.
  • The doctor will explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have. They will then have you sign a consent form.
  • The biopsy will be performed. The skin over the area that will be biopsied will be frozen with a small needle. A different needle will be used to take the tissue sample. The sample will be sent to the laboratory.
  • You will be observed for approximately 2 to 4 hours and then you will be discharged by the doctor who did the biopsy.

How should I get ready for my needle biopsy?

Before your biopsy appointment:

  • You may need to have a blood test before the biopsy to ensure that your blood clotting is normal. The blood test should ideally be done in the two-week period before your biopsy.
  • If you are on any medication that affects blood clotting (often referred to as “blood thinners”) you may have to stop taking it before your biopsy. In advance of your biopsy, talk to the doctor who is arranging this biopsy about your medications and ask whether any of them must be stopped in advance. Examples of blood thinners include: Warfarin, Coumadin, Plavix, Clopidogrel, Ticlid, Ticlidopine, Fragmin, Dalteparin, Lovenox, Rivaroxaban, Apixaban, Dabigatran, ASA. These are just some examples of blood thinners, but the list is not complete so please be sure your doctor is aware of everything you take so they can guide you appropriately.

Day of your biopsy:

  • Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding blood thinner medications.
  • Please take all other prescribed medications (for example blood pressure pills) with a few sips of water in the morning.
  • Do not eat any solid food for 6 hours before your biopsy.
  • Do not drink milk, orange juice (or any juice with pulp), or alcohol for 6 hours before your biopsy.
  • You may drink clear fluids such as water, black tea or black coffee, clear juices (apple juice, cranberry juice, grape juice, Gatorade™) up until 2 hours before the procedure.
  • If you are diabetic and you take insulin: Take your insulin as usual and drink enough clear sweet fluids to keep your sugar in the normal range.
  • If you are diabetic and you take metformin: Clear fluids up to two hours before your appointment but skip your metformin.

What do I bring to my biopsy appointment?

  • Bring your Ontario Health card and another piece of identification.
  • A responsible adult must accompany you home from your appointment and stay with you overnight.

Will I be asleep during my biopsy?

Nobody is put totally asleep for a biopsy. In some cases, intravenous sedation may be given. Most lung biopsies are done without any sedation because you need to be awake and alert in order to follow breathing instructions.

Will I need to restrict my activity after a lung biopsy?

If you have a lung biopsy you are advised to not fly or scuba dive for two weeks after the procedure.

Who can I call if I have a question about my appointment?

If you have questions please call Joanne Pedias at 416-480-4732. If you plan to cancel the biopsy, please notify her at the earliest opportunity so that the slot can be given to someone else.

How will I get the results of my biopsy?

You will get the results from the doctor who requested the biopsy, not the doctor who did the biopsy. If you do not have a follow-up appointment scheduled, you should make an appointment with your doctor to discuss the results of the biopsy. The results will take anywhere from 5 days to 2 weeks to be available.