Rectal biopsy

  • Definition
    • A rectal biopsy is a procedure to remove a small piece of rectal tissue for examination.

  • Alternative Names
    • Biopsy - rectum

  • How the Test is Performed
    • A rectal biopsy is usually part of anoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.

      A digital rectal exam is done first. Then, a lubricated instrument (anoscope or proctoscope) is placed into the rectum. You will feel some discomfort when this is done.

      A biopsy can be taken through any of these instruments.

  • How to Prepare for the Test
    • You may get a laxative, enema, or other preparation before the biopsy so that you can completely empty your bowel. This will allow the doctor a clear view of the rectum.

  • How the Test will Feel
    • There will be some discomfort during the procedure. You may feel like you need to have a bowel movement. You may feel cramping or mild discomfort as the instrument is placed into the rectal area. You may feel a pinch when a biopsy is taken.

  • Why the Test is Performed
    • A rectal biopsy is used to determine the cause of abnormal growths found during anoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or other tests. It can also be used to confirm the diagnosis of amyloidosis.

  • Normal Results
    • The anus and rectum appear normal in size, color, and shape. There should be no evidence of:

      No problems are seen when the biopsy tissue is examined under a microscope.

  • What Abnormal Results Mean
  • Risks
    • There is some risk of bleeding and tearing.

  • References
    • Fry RD, Mahmoud NN, Maron, Bleier JIS. Colon and rectum. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 52.