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Updated April 28, 2009

Liver biopsy

A needle biopsy of the liver

Photo © A.D.A.M.
Definition: Biopsy means taking a sample of tissue from the body for medical examination. Most often a biopsy is done to examine the tissue for disease. For example, a biopsy may be taken of an abnormal growth or change in the body or on the skin.

A biopsy may be done with a needle and syringe (called percutaneous biopsy) to remove a small piece of tissue. Usually the person is awake for this. A skin biopsy may be done by numbing an area of skin and then removing a sample. A person may also have a biopsy done while he is asleep under anesthesia if the tissue needs to be removed from inside the body.

Pronunciation: BI-op-see
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