Biopsies and Fine Needle Aspiration

What is a biopsy?

A biopsy is when a sample of tissue is taken from the body and sent to pathology for testing.

Who performs the injection?

A fine needle aspiration, also referred to as an FNA, is when a small needle is inserted and a tiny amount of cells are taken.

Local anesthetic is sometimes not needed as the needle used is smaller than the needle used for blood tests.

Aspirations can also be used for therapeutic purposes, such as releasing a build up of fluid.

Why will my Doctor refer me for this procedure?

Usually a patient is referred for a biopsy or fine needle aspiration when the particular part of the body has been scanned and come back with an abnormal result. Abnormal can be classed as a lesion or mass, or considered suspicious in nature, which needs pathology to diagnose it more closely

Common areas of the body for this procedure

The most common areas of the body that are biopsied are areas in the neck such as thyroid and salivary glands, as well as breasts and other lumps found in the body.

Is there preparation for this procedure?

Blood thinning medication may need to be stopped before your biopsy. The receptionist will let you know which medication needs to be stopped and for how long. Please make sure you check with your GP or specialist BEFORE stopping any medications.

If you are feeling nervous about the procedure, sometimes it is encouraged to bring along a support person, that can sit with you and drive you to and from the appointment.

How is the procedure performed?

Our radiologist will be the one to perform the procedure, under image guidance. First the skin is cleaned with antiseptic solution, local anesthetic may be applied, followed by the biopsy needle. This usually takes about 20 minutes. The area is then sealed with a bandage.

A consent form must be completed and signed before beginning. This includes all the information relevant to the procedure and risks, so please read carefully before signing.

Are there risks?

Some discomfort may occur, but pain and bleeding are rare, as is a haematoma at the biopsy site. Staff are well trained to handle these situations.


Biopsy samples will be sent to a pathology lab for diagnosis. These results will then be sent back to your referring doctor. Please keep in mind we are not a pathology lab and have no control over the time frame for results.

If you have any questions regarding charges or would like to know more information, please contact our friendly staff on or or call us on (02) 4249 2710.