Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content


2-minute read

What is a biopsy?

A biopsy involves taking a small piece of tissue from the body so that it can be tested. This helps to diagnose disease.

Why are biopsies done?

Biopsies have many uses. They are sometimes done to check if a lump is cancerous or not. Other times they check for problems like liver or kidney diseases. They can be used to find out when a condition is getting better or worse. Biopsies can also help doctors choose the best treatment.

Biopsy types

There are many types of biopsy, depending on the part of the body being looked at.

A biopsy can involve cutting the skin so that the doctor can remove a small part of tissue or organ.

In many cases, a needle can be used to draw out some tissue. This can usually be performed under local anaesthetic. Sometimes imaging (such as CT scans, X-rays or ultrasounds) is used to help guide the needle.

How to prepare for a biopsy?

It's important to ask your doctor if you need to prepare in any way. You may be asked to fast (not eat or drink for a period of time) before certain biopsies. Depending on the procedure, your doctor may ask you to have a blood test. They may also ask you to stop taking certain medications for a few days beforehand.

What happens after a biopsy?

It is rare to have any serious side effects after a biopsy. The spot where the biopsy was taken may be a bit bruised or sore for a few days. Depending on the type of anaesthetic drug used you might not be able to drive home afterwards.

In rare cases you might experience bleeding or infection where the biopsy was taken. It is very unlikely that the biopsy could injure one of your organs, but sometimes this does happen. You should always talk to your doctor if you experience any symptoms after a biopsy that you're worried about.

Your biopsy results are usually available within a few days. Check with your doctor how you will get them.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: March 2018

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Biopsy -

A biopsy is a test in which a small tissue sample is removed for examination to help diagnose a disease. Explore the procedure and risks with

Read more on myDr website

Liver Biopsy | HealthEngine Blog

Liver biopsy is considered the most accurate investigation for evaluating patients with liver diseases, particularly those of a chronic nature. Liver biopsy obtains a tissue sample that can determine the nature and severity of disease.

Read more on HealthEngine website

Renal biopsy

This medical procedure involves taking a small sample tissue (biopsy) from the kidney so that it can be examined under the microscope. It is usually done on the left kidney.

Read more on WA Health website

Core Biopsy | myVMC

A core biopsy is a procedure where a needle is passed through the skin to take a sample of tissue from a mass or lump.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Liver biopsy -

Find out what is involved when you have a liver biopsy, in which a small piece of liver tissue is removed to help doctors detect liver abnormalities.

Read more on myDr website

Skin biopsy to diagnose skin cancer

Skin biopsy is a common medical procedure in which a small section of skin is removed to test for melanoma, skin cancer or another skin condition.

Read more on myVMC – Virtual Medical Centre website

Image Guided Liver Biopsy - InsideRadiology

Image guided liver biopsy is a procedure where liver cells are obtained by a needle inserted directly into the liver through the abdominal wall, in the stomach area, and examined.

Read more on InsideRadiology website

Cancer Biopsy Testing - Information & Support - CanTeen

A biopsy is a surgical procedure used to determine whether a tumour is benign or cancerous.Learn more about diagnosis and treatments with CanTeen.

Read more on CanTeen website

Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy - Lab Tests Online AU

Why and when to have a bone marrow aspiration or biopsy done

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Liver biopsy | Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

A liver biopsy involves inserting a needle into your childs right upper abdomen to obtain a small piece of your childs liver to be tested in Pathology

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo