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What is an Excisional Biopsy?

An excisional biopsy is a medical procedure where a surgeon removes an entire lump or suspicious area for thorough examination. This technique is crucial for diagnosing conditions, particularly cancer. High-resolution images within this article vividly illustrate the process, enhancing your understanding. How might this procedure impact patient outcomes? Join us as we examine the implications for diagnosis and treatment.
A. Gabrenas
A. Gabrenas

An excisional biopsy is a surgical procedure commonly used to remove a piece of tissue that shows sign of possibly being cancerous. For example, it may be used to test abnormal lumps of breast tissue or suspicious moles. It is generally considered one of the more invasive diagnostic tests, often requiring stitches and leaving a scar. While initially diagnostic, an excision biopsy can also be curative if all abnormal cells are successfully removed during the primary procedure.

There are several different types of biopsies that are commonly used to diagnose abnormal masses and skin lesions. One of the simplest and least invasive of these is a needle biopsy, where a needle is inserted into the mass and a small piece of tissue is removed. This is a type of incisional biopsy, meaning only part of the mass is removed.

Excisional biopsies may be used to remove pre-cancerous moles.
Excisional biopsies may be used to remove pre-cancerous moles.

An excisional biopsy, on the other hand, removes the entire affected area. For a larger mass, such as a breast tumor, the procedure is often conducted in a hospital and requires either local or general anesthesia. Such a procedure generally requires stitches to close the wound, and may leave a noticeable dent or dimple where the mass was removed. Even for smaller lesions, such as suspicious moles, stitches are often needed and a small scar is typically left behind where the skin has been removed.

When tissue is removed in an excisional biopsy, it is generally sent for further testing to determine what type of cells are present.
When tissue is removed in an excisional biopsy, it is generally sent for further testing to determine what type of cells are present.

Due to the fact that excisional biopsies are a form of surgery, there are often some risks involved. Risks include those from the anesthesia used, as well as the wound created by the tissue removal. Depending on the exact type used, anesthesia can lead to problems such as difficulty breathing, nerve damage, and nausea and vomiting. Risks related to the tissue removal itself include excessive bleeding, infection and development of abnormal scar tissue. In general, however, healthcare providers only recommend excisional biopsy when the benefits outweigh the risk.

An excisional biopsy can be used to test abnormal breast tissue.
An excisional biopsy can be used to test abnormal breast tissue.

When the tissue is removed in any kind of biopsy, it is generally sent for further testing to determine what type of cells are present. A pathologist typically views the cells under a microscope, often treating it with special chemicals to highlight any abnormalities. If precancerous or cancerous cells are found, the patient and specialist will usually then discuss options for further treatment, if needed. In some cases, such as precancerous moles, the excisional biopsy may have removed enough tissue that no additional treatment is needed. Other cases, however, may require additional surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or other treatment to ensure all of the abnormal cells are eradicated.

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    • Excisional biopsies may be used to remove pre-cancerous moles.
      By: Alexander Raths
      Excisional biopsies may be used to remove pre-cancerous moles.
    • When tissue is removed in an excisional biopsy, it is generally sent for further testing to determine what type of cells are present.
      By: luchschen_shutter
      When tissue is removed in an excisional biopsy, it is generally sent for further testing to determine what type of cells are present.
    • An excisional biopsy can be used to test abnormal breast tissue.
      By: Arto
      An excisional biopsy can be used to test abnormal breast tissue.
    • Anesthesia may be utilized during an excisional biopsy.
      By: pressmaster
      Anesthesia may be utilized during an excisional biopsy.
    • Patients who receive anesthesia during an excisional biopsy will be monitored carefully.
      By: fivepointsix
      Patients who receive anesthesia during an excisional biopsy will be monitored carefully.
    • An excisional biopsy may be used to diagnose abnormalities found on a mammogram.
      By: Tyler Olson
      An excisional biopsy may be used to diagnose abnormalities found on a mammogram.
    • Some people may experience breathing difficulties as a result of anesthesia during procedures.
      By: Lisa F. Young
      Some people may experience breathing difficulties as a result of anesthesia during procedures.