A biopsy of the lungs is a diagnostic procedure during which a doctor removes a small portion of the lung tissue for further evaluation. Typically, this test is performed on patients with suspected lung disease or infection, such as lung cancer or pneumonia. There are two major forms of lung biopsy procedures: open lung biopsy and needle biopsy of the lung 123. Patients should consult a doctor to discuss the potential complications after a biopsy of the lungs before undergoing this procedure.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Patients who undergo a lung biopsy can develop a collapsed lung as a complication of this procedure, the New York University Langone Medical Center warns 3. A collapsed lung after lung biopsy occurs when the pleural sac that surrounds and protects the lungs is punctured by biopsy tools, causing air and pressure to accumulate around the lungs. This increased pressure around the lungs interferes with a patient's ability to inhale and expand the lungs normally, resulting in lung collapse. Affected patients can experience severe breathing difficulties, sharp chest pain, blue skin discoloration or a rapid heart rate. A fully collapsed lung is a medical emergency that requires prompt medical attention in order to avoid potentially life-threatening complications.
- Patients who undergo a lung biopsy can develop a collapsed lung as a complication of this procedure, the New York University Langone Medical Center warns 3.
- A collapsed lung after lung biopsy occurs when the pleural sac that surrounds and protects the lungs is punctured by biopsy tools, causing air and pressure to accumulate around the lungs.
Hemoptysis or Excessive Bleeding
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Minor damage to the lungs during a biopsy can irritate and inflame the delicate lung tissue. If this occurs, small amounts of blood can be released into a patient's airways. This can cause a patient to cough up blood, a complication after a biopsy of the lungs called hemoptysis, according to RadiologyInfo.org 1. Hemoptysis symptoms typically resolve without further medical intervention as a patient's lung heals after biopsy. Excessive bleeding or hemorrhage of the lungs is very rare, but requires emergency medical attention if it occurs. Patients who cough up large amounts of blood or continue to experience hemoptysis symptoms for more than a few days should contact a doctor as soon as possible.
- Minor damage to the lungs during a biopsy can irritate and inflame the delicate lung tissue.
- Hemoptysis symptoms typically resolve without further medical intervention as a patient's lung heals after biopsy.
Biopsy of the lungs increases a patient's risk of developing infection complications. Lung infection risks are rare and typically affect approximately one in 1,000 patients following lung biopsy, RadiologyInfo.org reports 1. Lung infection symptoms can include shortness of breath, cough, chest pain or fever. Generally, lung infection complications after a biopsy of the lungs can be resolved through treatment with antibiotics.
- Biopsy of the lungs increases a patient's risk of developing infection complications.
- Generally, lung infection complications after a biopsy of the lungs can be resolved through treatment with antibiotics.
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- RadiologyInfo.org: Needle Biopsy of Lung Nodules
- MedlinePlus: Open Lung Biopsy
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: Needle Biopsy of the Lung and Pleura
- National Institute of Health. Lung needle biopsy. Updated 03/09/17.
- Dietel, M. et al. Diagnostic procedures for non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLS): recommendations of the European Expert Group. Thorax. 2015 Nov 3. (Epub ahead of print) doi:10.1136/thoraxjnl-2014-206677
- Yao, X. et al. Fine-needle aspiration biopsy versus core-needle biopsy in diagnosing lung cancer: a systematic review. Current Oncology. 2011. 19(1):e16-27. doi:10.3747/co.19.871
- National Institute of Health. Open Lung Biopsy. Updated 03/09/17.
- Zhang, A., Ramnath, N., and S. Nagrath. Current Status of CTC’s as Liquid Biopsy in Lung Cancer and Future Directions. Frontiers in Oncology. 2015. 5:209. doi:10.3389/fonc.2015.00209
- Jiang, T., Ren, S., and C. Zhou. The role of circulating-tumor DNA analysis in non-small cell lung cancer. Lung Cancer. 2015. 90(2):128-34. doi:10.1016/j.lungcan.2015.09.013
- Wu, C. et al. Complications of CT-guided percutaneous needle biopsy of the chest: prevention and management. AJR: American Journal of Roentgenology. 2011. 196(6):W678-82. doi:10.2214/AJR.10.4659
- Freund, M. et al. Systemic air embolism during percutaneous core needle biopsy of the lung: frequency and risk factors. BMC Pulmonary Medicine. 2012 Feb 6. (Epub ahead of print) doi:10.1186/1471-2466-12-2
- Hare, S. et al. Systemic arterial air embolism after percutaneous lung biopsy. Clinical Radiology. 2011. 66(7):589-96. doi:10.1016/j.crad.2011.03.005
- Robertson, E., and G. Baxter. Tumour seeding following percutaneous needle biopsy: the real story! Clinical Radiology. 2011. 66(11):1007-14. doi:10.1016/j.crad.2011.05.012
Rae Uddin has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2004. She specializes in scientific journalism and medical and technical writing. Her work has appeared in various online publications. Uddin earned her Master of Science in integrated biomedical sciences with an emphasis in molecular and cellular biochemistry from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine.