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A biopsy is a medical diagnostic procedure that involves removing a sample of cells or tissue so that it may be examined under the microscope by a pathologist. Pathologists are specialists trained to look at samples of cells or tissue beneath a microscope to look for signs or for the extent of a specific disease. There are several types of biopsy including scrape, punch biopsy, endoscopic biopsy, needle biopsy, capsule biopsy, coposcopic biopsy and stereotactic biopsy. Excisional biopsy, a type of biopsy, involves removing a targeted area or a lump surgically rather than simply testing the sample.
Although there are a number of medical tests to use for diagnostic purposes, there are reasons why biopsy is the best option. When an abnormality is known to exist such as a tumor or a lesion on the skin, a biopsy is often the best way to get a close look at the tissue or cells to diagnose the underlying problem. Another reason why it is beneficial is because some issues can be removed entirely by biopsy, such as skin cancers. This eliminates the need for other, more invasive surgical procedures.
Biopsy may be used to diagnose disease or to test tissue for a match prior to transplant. Physicians recommend biopsy procedures for bone infections, bone cancers, breast lumps, endometrial tissue issues, kidney failure or kidney inflammation, lung and chest nodules, lymph node abnormalities, testicular abnormalities, thyroid nodules, skin changes or growths such as abnormal moles and small nerve damage. Different types of biopsies may suit specific purposes such as punch biopsies for skin cancers and needle biopsies for thyroid nodules.