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What is Aspiration Biopsy?


A biopsy is sampling of an abnormal area of tissue growth such as a nodule in the thyroid, a lump in the breast or an enlarged lymph gland. Sampling by aspiration biopsy is similar to sampling blood from a vein in your arm, except the needle is thinner. The needle is inserted into the lump and a drop of semisolid material is withdrawn for testing.

What is the purpose of performing an Aspiration Biopsy?


A lump can be the result of scar tissue, a cyst, an infection or an abnormal growth such as cancer. X-rays and blood tests cannot determine the exact nature of the lump so analyzing tissue taken directly from the lump helps your doctor determine appropriate treatment.

Who will perform my biopsy?


Your biopsy will be done by Dr Edward Chandraratnam. The biopsy is then checked immediately. This check is only for adequacy and a diagnosis cannot be made on this preliminary screening.

What is involved in the Aspiration Biopsy procedure?


Dr Chandraratnam will do an ultrasound and record size of the lump and its exact location. This ensures that you and your doctor know exactly what was biopsied. The biopsy needle is attached to a syringe and gently inserted into your lump for a few seconds and a sample is collected.

To ensure that sampling is representative, more samples may be taken from different areas of the lump. More samples are usually required in a large or complex lesion or in a lump that contains few cells. After the biopsy, firm pressure is applied to the lump to stop any bleeding. The biopsy is then checked immediately to ensure that an adequate sample has been obtained.

Anesthesia to site of biopsy?


We numb your skin with very cold ice pack before the biopsy. This not only reduces the pain but reduces bleeding and bruising.

When will the results be available?


  • The results will be sent directly to your referring doctor.

  • We will send you a text message 48 hours after the results have been sent to your doctor.

  • Your results will be available on “My Health Record” within 7 -10 days.

  • Please contact your doctor to discuss the biopsy results, what they mean, and what should be done next.

If it is cancer will the biopsy cause it to spread?


No. Experience worldwide for over 50 years has shown that fine needle aspiration biopsy is a very safe diagnostic procedure.

What are limitations of Aspiration Biopsy?


Despite the care devoted to each biopsy no medical investigation is 100% accurate. The reported incidence of a biopsy failing to find a malignancy is up to 10%. So a benign diagnosis is not final. You and your doctor should continue to watch the lump and/or do other investigations such as X-rays or laboratory tests. If the lump enlarges, it is imperative that you see your doctor and the lump is resampled.

What are the possible complications?


Bruising, tenderness, or mild swelling in the area of the biopsy occurs in about a quarter of patients. In our experience this disappears within a few days. We find that an ice pack or non-aspirin medication, such as Panadol, helps some patients. Complications such as rapid swelling, bleeding or infection are extremely rare. If these or any unusual symptoms occur, you should contact your doctor immediately.

Are you having second thoughts?


Most patients look upon aspiration biopsy as they would a blood test. However some put off scheduling the biopsy, or fail to keep an appointment. This is caused by a fear of needles or of what the biopsy may find. Rather than risk delay in your diagnosis, we urge you to make and keep your appointment with us. In the meantime, write down your questions so that you will not forget them. Then come in and see us. You have our assurance that your questions will be answered in clear, easy to understand language. If, after this discussion, you still do not desire the biopsy, we will respect your decision. Later, if you change your mind, we will gladly re-schedule the appointment.

Why get your Aspiration Biopsy done at Austpath?


All biopsies at Austpath are performed by Dr Edward Chandraratnam. He has been practicing the procedure for over 20 years and is a recognized expert in fine needle aspiration biopsy.


We use ultrasound to accurately target the lump ensuring a much higher rate of successful tissue extraction.


At Austpath the sample is checked immediately for adequacy. This means, if the sample is not sufficient for diagnosis, another sample can be taken immediately.


If Dr Chandraratnam feels that additional samples will be needed for other tests, they can be taken immediately and you won't have to return for another biopsy.

Infection control

Infection control precautions used with all patients at Austpath include the following;

  • Disposable gloves, FNA needles, core biopsy needles and biopsy trays

  • Disposable ultrasound transducer cover

  • Reusable needles for use with Franzen biopsy guide – Autoclaved at Westmead Private Hospital

  • Hand hygiene (Washing hands with water and neutral hand soap or antimicrobial soap)

Medical Certificate

If a medical certificate is required, please inform reception before your biopsy.


No photography or video recording is permitted in the biopsy room.

Further information, feedback and Complaints

Practice Manager: (P) - 02 8836 3333; email -

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