Type of Surgery


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Last updated: 11/24/2009


Lung biopsies should not be performed on patients who have a bleeding disorder or abnormal blood clotting because of low platelet counts, or prolonged prothrombin time (PT) or partial thromboplastin time (PTT). Platelets are small blood cells that...

play a role in the blood clotting process. PT and PTT measure how well blood is clotting. If clotting times are prolonged, it may be unsafe to perform a biopsy because of the risk of bleeding. If the platelet count is lower than 50,000/cubic mm, the patient may be given a platelet transfusion as a temporary relief measure, and a biopsy can then be performed.

In addition, lung biopsies should not be performed if other tests indicate the patient has enlarged alveoli associated with emphysema, pulmonary hypertension, or enlargement of the right ventricle of the heart (cor pulmonale).

The normal risks of any surgical procedure include bleeding, infection, or pneumonia. The risk of these complications is higher in patients undergoing open biopsy procedures, as is the risk of pneumothorax (lung collapse). In rare cases, the lung collapses because of air that leaks in through the hole made by the biopsy needle. A chest x ray is done immediately after the biopsy to detect the development of this potential complication. If a pneumothorax occurs, a chest tube is inserted into the pleural cavity to re-expand the lung. Signs of pneumothorax include shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, or blueness of the skin (a late sign). If the patient has any of these symptoms after being discharged from the hospital, it is important to call the health care provider or emergency services immediately.

Bronchoscopic biopsy

Bronchoscopy is generally safe, and complications are rare. If they do occur, complications may include spasms of the bronchial tubes that can impair breathing, irregular heart rhythms, or infections such as pneumonia.

Needle biopsy

Needle biopsy is associated with fewer risks than open biopsy because it does not involve general anesthesia. Some hemoptysis (coughing up blood) occurs in 5% of needle biopsies. Prolonged bleeding or infection may also occur, although these are very rare complications.

Open biopsy

Possible complications of an open biopsy include infection or pneumothorax. If the patient has very severe breathing problems before the biopsy, breathing may be further impaired following the operation. Patients with normal lung function prior to the biopsy have a very small risk of respiratory problems resulting from or following the procedure.


Complications due to mediastinoscopy are rare. Possible complications include pneumothorax or bleeding caused by damage to the blood vessels near the heart. Mediastinitis, infection of the mediastinum, may develop. Injury to the esophagus or larynx may occur. If the nerves leading to the larynx are injured, the patient may be left with a permanently hoarse voice. All of these complications are rare.



The sinuses in the skull can become blocked and inflamed leading to pain and sometimes fever. The traditional surgical treatment for blocked sinuses was to use rigid instruments to enlarge the areas that drain the sinuses. A newer approach, which is shown in this animation, involves the insertion and inflation of a balloon to expand the sinus outlets. This approach is similar to balloon angioplasty used in damaged or blocked blood vessels.

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Other Information

A lung biopsy removes a small piece of lung tissue which can be looked at under a microscope. The biopsy can be done in 4 ways. The method used depends on where the sample will be taken from and your overall health.

A lung biopsy is done to:

·                                 Diagnose certain lung conditions, such as sarcoidosis or pulmonary fibrosis. In rare cases, a lung biopsy may be done for severe pneumonia, especially if the diagnosis is not clear.

·                                 Diagnose suspected lung cancer.

·                                 Evaluate any abnormalities seen on other tests, such as a chest X-ray or a CT scan. A lung biopsy is usually done when other tests cannot identify the cause of lung problems.

From http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/lung-biopsy

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