Open lung biopsy

  • Definition
    • An open lung biopsy is surgery to remove a small piece of tissue from the lung. The sample is then examined for cancer, infection, or lung disease.

  • Alternative Names
    • Biopsy - open lung

  • How the Test is Performed
    • An open lung biopsy is done in the hospital using general anesthesia, which means you are asleep and pain-free. A tube will be placed through your mouth down your throat to help you breathe.

      The surgery is done in the following way:

      • After cleaning the skin, the surgeon makes a small cut in the left or right side of your chest.
      • The ribs are gently separated.
      • Tissue is taken from the lung and sent to a laboratory for examination.
      • After surgery, the wound is closed with stitches.
      • Your surgeon may leave a small plastic tube in your chest to prevent air and fluid from building up.
  • How to Prepare for the Test
    • You should tell the health care provider if you are pregnant, allergic to any medicines, or if you have a bleeding problem. Be sure to tell your provider about all the medicines you take, including herbs, supplements, and those bought without a prescription.

      Follow your surgeon's instructions for not eating or drinking before the procedure.

  • How the Test will Feel
    • When you wake up after the procedure, you will feel drowsy for several hours.

      There will be some tenderness and pain where the surgical cut is located. Most surgeons inject a long-acting local anesthetic at the surgical cut site so that you will have very little pain afterwards.

      You may have a sore throat from the tube. You can ease the pain by eating ice chips.

  • Why the Test is Performed
    • The open lung biopsy is done to evaluate lung problems seen on x-ray or CT scan.

  • Normal Results
    • The lungs and lung tissue will be normal.

  • What Abnormal Results Mean
  • Risks
    • There is a possibility of infection or an air leak into the chest. Your risk depends on whether or not you already have lung disease.

  • References
    • Putnam JB Jr. Lung, chest wall, pleura, and mediastinum. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 58.