Radiology (Xray)

Ultrasound Guided Biopsy

Contact: RVI: (0191) 282 4330; Freeman Hospital: (0191) 223 1012

IntroductionShow [+]Hide [-]

This information is designed to give you some details about having an Ultrasound Guided Biopsy, to help you prepare for your scan and give you some idea of what to expect when you attend.

What is an ultrasound guided biopsy?Show [+]Hide [-]

This test is routinely performed in the X-ray department and involves taking a small piece of tissue from the part of your body that your doctors wish to investigate.  The procedure is carried out using an ultrasound scanner to guide the Radiologist (x-ray doctor) to the exact area of the body under investigation.  This allows the best sample possible to be obtained.

Who performs the ultrasound biopsy?Show [+]Hide [-]

Your scan will be performed by a Radiologist (medical doctor who specialises in interpreting diagnostic imaging).  The Radiologist will explain what happens and will show you what to do.

What preparation will I need?Show [+]Hide [-]

Depending on which part of the body is being examined, preparation instructions will be given out with your appointment letter.

What does the examination involve?Show [+]Hide [-]

You will come to the x-ray department on a wheelchair or in your bed.

The staff will check your details and you will be taken into the Ultrasound Scan room. 

The doctor who will be performing the biopsy will talk to you about why it is being done, what will happen and what problems can occur following a biopsy.  You will be given the chance to ask any questions you may have.  You will be asked to sign a consent form to confirm you understand before the test begins.

You will be asked to lie down on your bed or on a couch and the doctor will put some gel on your skin over the area where the biopsy will be taken. 

  • The doctor will use the ultrasound machine to decide where to put the needle.  A mark will then be made on your skin and the gel will be cleared away. 
  • A sterilising solution will be used to clean your skin and local anaesthetic (see below) will be injected.  This causes a brief stinging sensation and then makes the area numb. 
  • The doctor will then position the needle using the ultrasound machine to guide it into the right place.  Once the doctor is happy that the needle is correctly position, the biopsy will be taken.  You may hear or be aware of a clicking sound at this stage. 
  • The doctor will remove the needle and check the sample.
  • Sometimes more than one piece of tissue will be taken and if so, the biopsy needle will be put back into position for the next sample.  Once the doctor has taken sufficient samples, a dressing will be placed over the area. 
  • A nurse will come down from the ward and take you back there on your bed or chair.  Once on the ward, the staff will check your pulse and blood pressure for several hours.

Local AnaestheticShow [+]Hide [-]

  • Your radiologist will ask you to keep quite still while the injections are given.
  • You may notice a warm tingling feeling as the anaesthetic begins to take effect.
  • Your procedure will only go ahead when you and your radiologist are sure that the area is numb.
  • If you are not having sedation, you will remain alert and aware of your surroundings. 
  • Your radiologist is always near to you and you can speak to him/her whenever you want to

What happens after the biopsy?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • If you are a day case and your pulse and blood pressure are normal, you will be allowed to go home later the same day. 
  • You may be required to stay in hospital overnight for observation.  This will be arranged with you beforehand.  It is likely that you will be required to rest in bed for four to six hours. 
  • The nurses on the ward will check your pulse and blood pressure regularly to make sure you are well and comfortable after the procedure.

Will anything prevent me from having the biopsy?Show [+]Hide [-]

Yes.  You should inform the hospital consultant looking after you, or the x-ray department as soon as possible if you are taking any tablets to thin the blood (Warfarin) or if you have a medical condition, which makes it hard for your blood to clot.  In the event of either of these, we may need to check your blood before the biopsy to ensure you are not at risk of bleeding too much after the test.  Please let us know by ringing the appropriate number below:

RVI Radiology Appointments                 0191 282 4330 (8.30am-5.00pm)

Freeman Radiology Appointments       0191 223 1012 (8.30am-5.00pm)

How long will the examination take?Show [+]Hide [-]

Depending on which part of the body is being examined, it could take between 10 – 30 minutes.

How does it feel?Show [+]Hide [-]

The biopsy is carried out under local anaesthetic, which is administered by an injection (i.e. the area from which the sample is taken is ‘frozen’).  This means it is unlikely that you will feel the sample being taken.  If you are anxious it is usually possible for you to have some sedation before the examination to help you to relax.  Please ask the doctor on the ward.

What are the benefits of having an ultrasound guided biopsy?Show [+]Hide [-]

By taking a small sample of tissue it is possible to obtain important information regarding your condition and also the treatment you might require.  The sample obtained at the biopsy will be examined in detail under a microscope to find out what is wrong with you.

What are the risks of having an Ultrasound guided biopsy?Show [+]Hide [-]

Ultrasound is considered to be a harmless method of investigating the body. There are no known side-effects from diagnostic Ultrasound scanning.   The biopsy procedure is very safe.  The common complication is minor bruisingBleeding, infection, damage to structures likes nerves and muscles are other possible side effects of biopsy, but these are extremely rare.  The radiologist (special imaging doctor) will explain all these risks before doing the procedure.

When will I get the results?Show [+]Hide [-]

Because the sample needs to be examined in detail, the results can take up to a week.  The biopsy samples are sent to the laboratory where they are assessed by a pathologist.  The pathologist will send a report to your hospital doctor saying what has been found.  The results will then be discussed with you in clinic.

Can I drive home?Show [+]Hide [-]

Having a biopsy is safe and complications are extremely rare, but we advise that you do not drive home after an ultrasound guided biopsy.  You should arrange alternative transport.

I need an ambulance/transport. Do you arrange it?Show [+]Hide [-]

If you need an ambulance/ transport, you should ask your GP Surgery for details of how to arrange it. You will need to give them at least three working days notice.  Please note that hospital transport is provided on medical need only.

What if I cannot attend for my appointment?Show [+]Hide [-]

If your appointment time is not convenient it is essential you contact the hospital department immediately so that a more appropriate time can be arranged.  This will enable us to reallocate valuable scanning time to someone else.

RVI Radiology Appointments                 0191 282 4330 (8.30am-5.00pm)

Freeman Radiology Appointments       0191 223 1012 (8.30am-5.00pm)

Information from your diagnostic test will contribute to the Diagnostic Imaging Dataset. 

The Diagnostic Imaging Dataset (DID) is a database that holds information on the imaging tests and scans carried out on NHS patients. This will allow the Health and Social Care Information Centre to see how different tests are used across the country.

Nothing will ever be reported that identifies you.  All information is stored securely. It is only made available to appropriate staff, and is kept strictly confidential. However, if you do not want your information to be stored in the DID, please tell the people who are treating you. They will make sure your information is not copied into the DID.

You may, at a later date, still decide to opt out.  Please contact the Health and Social Care Information Centre directly, their contact details are:

Telephone: 0845 300 6016 



What if I have any comments, suggestions or complaints?Show [+]Hide [-]

Should you have any suggestions or concerns, please make these known to the person conducting your examination or by letter addressed to the hospital that you are attending for your examination:

The Departmental Manager                      The Departmental Manager

X-ray Department                                        Main X-ray Department

Royal Victoria Infirmary                              Freeman Hospital

Queen Victoria Road                                  High Heaton

Newcastle Upon Tyne                                Newcastle Upon Tyne

NE1 4LP                                                       NE7 7DN

Tel:  (0191) 282 1099                               Tel:  (0191) 282 1099

Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm

All Newcastle Hospitals: Switchboard Tel: (0191) 233 6161 (24 hours)

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) can offer on-the-spot advice and information about the NHS.  You can contact them on freephone 0800 032 02 02 or email

Information produced by: Yasmin McGrady Superintendent Sonographer

© Copyright Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust 2018 Site by TH_NK