Radiology (Xray)

Ultrasound Guided Biopsy Musculoskeletal

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

What is an ultrasound scan?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • An ultrasound scan is a non-invasive method of producing detailed images of the inside of your body using high frequency sound waves.  The sound waves are at a pitch that is too high to be heard by the human ear.  A computer converts the information into a moving picture that is displayed on a monitor and can be stored electronically.

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

  • A biopsy is a test in which some small samples of tissue are taken from an area of interest so that they can be examined under a microscope. A biopsy has been asked for because initial tests have suggested that an area of tissue in the body isn’t normal. High frequency ultrasound can be used to guide the biopsy needle to the exact location that the biopsy is needed.

Why do I need a musculoskeletal ultrasound guided biopsy?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • The medical team caring for you need more information about an area of tissue which has been shown by initial tests to be abnormal. Taking a sample of this tissue will allow it to be examined under a microscope to give a better idea of what the abnormal tissue is. This information can then be used to decide the best form of treatment for you.

Who performs the musculoskeletal ultrasound guided 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 [-]

  • Usually none.  Printed instructions will be included in your appointment letter if any preparation is needed.

I have diabetes. Does this change anything?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • No.

I am currently taking medication to thin my blood. Do I need to do anything different? Show [+]Hide [-]

  • If you are taking blood thinning drugs including warfarin, aspirin, clopidogrel, dabigatran, apixaban, rivaroxaban, edoxaban or dipyridamole please contact the department on the number below as soon as possible:
  • RVI X-ray Appointments               0191 282 4330 (Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.00pm)
  • Freeman X-ray Appointments     0191 223 1012 (Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.00pm)

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

  • On arrival we may ask you to remove some of your clothing and put on a hospital gown. 
  • Once in the examination room, you will lie on a couch next to the ultrasound machine. 
  • The radiologist will do the scan by placing a small amount of clear gel onto the skin and gently running a small probe, like a microphone, over the skin surface. 
  • You may be asked to change your position slightly or hold your breath from time to time.
  • The doctor who arranged for you to have this examination has asked the radiologist to consider performing a biopsy as part of the test. This involves taking some small samples of tissue from the area of interest. The radiologist will explain whether this is necessary once they have scanned the area.
  • The biopsy involves using the ultrasound image to guide a needle into the abnormal area in order to take a small sample for laboratory analysis.
  • Taking the sample involves cleaning the skin with antiseptic, injecting local anaesthetic if necessary, then guiding the needle into the correct position.
  • The radiologist will need to take a few samples of tissue (usually between three and five samples) which are all taken at the same time. This is to ensure that the laboratory get as much information as possible and to reduce the chances of you needing a further biopsy.
  • The radiologist will answer any questions you have about the biopsy at the time. If you have concerns before the test, please contact the doctor who you saw in clinic who will be able to discuss the biopsy further with you.

How does it feel during the biopsy?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • In order to perform your scan it will be necessary to apply a small amount of gel to the skin surface in the area being examined. This gel dissolves in water and will not stain your clothing.
  • The skin at the site of biopsy will be cleaned using a cold antiseptic solution.
  • Once the skin has been numbed, a fine needle will be passed into the abnormal area and the biopsy taken. The biopsy needle makes a click a bit like a stapler when the sample is taken.
  • You may feel some pushing as the needle goes into the abnormal area.

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

  • Each examination is different and may take up to 30 minutes to complete, depending on whether or not a biopsy is taken. We may also ask you to wait for a short time after the biopsy to make sure that there is no bleeding.

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

  • Obtaining a biopsy sample enables several small samples of tissue to be assessed in the laboratory.  This additional information gained from this can be combined with the clinical and ultrasound features to make a more accurate diagnosis.  Using ultrasound, we can guide the needle to make sure it is placed accurately within the abnormal area.

What are the risks of having a musculoskeletal 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 also very safe.  The most common complication is minor bruisingBleeding, infection, damage to adjacent structures including nerves, muscles and blood vessels are other possible side effects/complications of biopsy, but these are extremely uncommon and using ultrasound will help to significantly reduce the chances of these occurring.  The radiologist will explain all these risks before doing the procedure.

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

  • You can expect to receive the results of your scan when you next see the doctor who sent you for the examination.  After your examination, the radiologist who performed the scan will study the pictures taken during your examination.  Within two weeks of the ultrasound scan a report is prepared and sent to the doctor who asked for the examination. The biopsy results will take at least a week and will also be sent directly to the doctor who sent you for the examination.

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 [-]

  • No.  If you need an ambulance/ transport, you should ask your GP surgery to arrange it. You will need to give them three working days’ notice.  Please note that hospital transport is provided on medical need only.

What if I have other questions?Show [+]Hide [-]

  • If you have any questions, doubts or worries, just ask.  The radiology staff want to make you feel as relaxed as possible.  This makes the scan easier for you and means that we get better images to aid your diagnosis.  This is a teaching hospital and we sometimes have junior medical staff and trainees in our department.  Trainees and junior staff may be present at the time of your examination.  If you are uncomfortable with this arrangement, please inform the ultrasound staff at the time of your appointment.  This will not affect your care or treatment in any way.

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

  • If your appointment time is not convenient please contact the hospital department so that a more appropriate time can be arranged.  This will enable us to reallocate valuable scanning time to someone else:
  • RVI X-ray Appointments               0191 282 4330 (Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.00pm)
  • Freeman X-ray Appointments     0191 223 1012 (Monday to Friday 8.30am-5.00pm)

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 your examination:
  • The Departmental Manager, X-ray Department, Level 3, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4LP
  • The Departmental Manager, Main X-ray Department, Freeman Hospital, High Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE7 7DN
  • 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 Dr A Karsandas, Consultant Radiologist

Diagnostic Imaging DatasetShow [+]Hide [-]

  • 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 
  • Email: 
  • Website:
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