Recovering from a biopsy 

Biopsies are usually straightforward procedures that are carried out using local anaesthetic.

In most cases, biopsies are outpatient procedures, so you won't need to stay in hospital overnight.

However, occasionally, some types of biopsy, such as those where a tissue sample needs to be taken from an internal organ, may require a general anaesthetic. In this instance, you'll need to stay in hospital overnight to recover from the anaesthetic.

After having a biopsy, you won't usually feel any pain. However, if you've had a tissue sample taken from a major organ, such as your liver or bone marrow, you may feel a dull ache or some slight discomfort. Your doctor or surgeon may recommend painkillers to help relieve this.

If an incision is needed to remove a tissue sample – for example, during an excision biopsy – stitches may be needed to close the wound, or a dressing may need to be applied.

If tissue is removed from an internal organ, such as your liver or kidneys, you'll need to stay in hospital for a few hours after the procedure. This is so you can rest and hospital staff can make sure there's no internal bleeding. It's rare for serious bleeding to occur after having a biopsy, but if it does, you may need to have an operation or a blood transfusion. In rare cases, another procedure or operation may be needed.

Women who have had tissue samples taken from their reproductive system, such as the lining of the cervix (neck of the womb), may experience some temporary light vaginal bleeding. Painkillers can be used to treat any cramping.


Page last reviewed: 17/06/2015

Next review due: 17/06/2017