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What is a lung needle biopsy?

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Quick Answer

A lung needle biopsy is a procedure to remove a sample of lung tissue to determine if there is cancer or lung disease. It is used when there is an abnormal condition near the surface of the lung, in the lung or on the chest wall, notes MedlinePlus.

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Full Answer

Medically referred to as a transthoracic lung biopsy, a lung needle biopsy is usually done if a chest x-ray or CT scan has shown some kind of abnormality. The patient is given a local anesthetic, and a small incision is made in the chest. Guided by a chest x-ray or chest CT scan to locate the affected area, the physician inserts a needle through the chest wall and into the abnormal tissue, tumor or lung tissue, and obtains a tissue sample with the needle. The procedure generally takes 30 to 60 minutes to perform, explains MedlinePlus.

The tissue sample is sent to a lab for analysis, which usually takes a few days. Normal test results indicate that the tissue is normal and there is no cancer. If a culture was performed on the sample, a normal result means there is no growth of bacteria, viruses or fungi. Abnormal results indicate bacterial, viral, or fungal lung infection, lung cancer, mesothelioma or pneumonia, states MedlinePlus.

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