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This patient information aims to answer some of the questions you may have about having a CT Guided Biopsy. It explains what you need to do to prepare for the scan, what you can expect when you come to hospital and what happens after. If you have any further questions please speak to your consultant or the imaging department.
What is a guided biopsy?
CT stands for Computered Tomography and it takes a series of pictures of your body using multiple x-rays to show cross-sections or ‘slices’ of the part of interest. A biopsy is a sample of tissue taken from the body by a needle, in order to examine it more closely. The use of the CT scan for the biopsy is to guide a radiologist precisely to the area that needs to be biopsied to ensure accuracy. This is a minimally invasive procedure that can usually be done without an overnight stay in the hospital.
What are the benefits of having a CT guided biopsy?
As stated above, a CT guided biopsy allows the radiologist have better accuracy of the tissue that needs biopsied and the position in the patient.
Are there any risks with this procedure?
A CT scan uses radiation, so it is always considered if the benefit of the procedure outweighs the risk. The level of radiation used is very small.
This is a common procedure and very safe when performed in a controlled setting. However, with any interventional procedure there are risks, side effects and a possibility of complications. The radiologist will go through this in more detail on the day.
If you are or if you think you could be pregnant, if you have had any, you must tell your referring doctor and the Imaging team.
Are there any alternatives?
Your doctor has considered the options and believes a CT guided biopsy is the best/ most accurate option. An alternative is a fluoroscopy guided biopsy or an ultrasound guided biopsy, however these do not provide the same level of accuracy when compared to CT.
Consent – asking for your consent
The radiologist will ask you if you are happy for the scan to go ahead. This is called ‘verbal consent’ and you will be asked to sign a consent form which states you agree to have the injection and understand what it involves. If you do not wish to have the scan or are undecided, please tell the radiographer/ radiologist.
It is your decision and you can change your mind at any time. Please bear in mind that not having the scan may delay your pain management. Please remember that you can ask the radiographer any questions you have at any time before, during or after your scan.
What do I have to do to prepare for the scan?
You will need to fast for 6 hours prior to this procedure and can drink water up to 2 hours prior. If you are taking any medication, please continue to take this.
What do I need to wear?
Please wear clothes that are easy to remove as you will be required to change into a hospital gown before you have your injection. This is to ensure a sterile procedure.
What happens during the procedure?
Before the scan takes place, you will be given the opportunity to ask the radiographer any questions you have. You will be asked to get changed into a hospital gown and remove any clothing around the site being injected. The radiologist will go through a consent form, check any allergies and explain the procedure and answer any questions you may have.
You will then lie down on the bed and we aim to make you as comfortable as possible because it is very important to not move until the end of your procedure. The scanner is open at the back and the front, allowing you to see out. The technologist will always be able to see and hear you during your exam. A marker grid is placed on the skin and a planning scan will be taken to find the correct position for the biopsy. The biopsy site is then marked with a pen and the area cleaned.
The radiologist will then inject a small amount of local anaesthetic to numb the area. Once this has taken effect, a biopsy needle will be placed into the site and another planning scan is taken. The needle may need repositioning and another scan may need to be taken. Once the radiologist is happy that the tip of the needle is in the correct place, the biopsy will be taken. This will be repeated a few times to ensure enough tissue has been obtained for testing. This sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing.
How long will the procedure take?
The procedure usually takes about an hour, however it is patient dependant. You will then be taken to the ward to be monitored for about four hours by our nursing staff. During this time, your vital signs will be monitored. Depending on the site of the biopsy a check xray may be required a few hours after as well.
Will there be anyone with me during the scan?
The radiographer and radiologist will talk to you through what’s going on during the procedure. The radiologist will be in the room most of the time. Unfortunately as CT uses radiation it is not advisable for a relative/ friend to accompany you while the procedure is going on. However, they can join for the consent and explanation if necessary.
Can I bring my children?
Unfortunately we are not able to offer childcare facilities and your children cannot go into the scan room with you. If you need to bring your children with you, please bring along an adult who can look after them while you are having the examination.
What happens afterwards?
As mentioned above You will then be taken to the ward to be monitored for about four hours by our nursing staff. During this time, your vital signs will be monitored. Depending on the site of the biopsy a check X-ray may be required a few hours after as well. After this time if you are feeling well and the nurse/ doctor in charge is happy you will be discharged. You can eat and drink as normal but you must not drive for 24 hours after this procedure.
After the local anaesthetic has worn off you may experience a little bit of pain at the site and a bruise which is common. However, if the site changes in appearance to red, inflamed or hot please contact the imaging department.
The results of the biopsy will be sent directly to your referring doctor.