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Bladder biopsy is a procedure that involves removing a small piece of tissue from the bladder to be examined under a microscope.
Biopsy - bladder
How the test is performed
A bladder biopsy can be done as a part of a cystoscopy (examination of the inside of the bladder). A small piece of tissue or the entire area of concern is removed and sent to the lab to be tested if:
- Abnormalities of the bladder are found during this examination
- A tumor is seen
How to prepare for the test
You must sign an informed consent form before you have a bladder biopsy. Usually you are asked to urinate just before the procedure. You may also be asked to take an antibiotic before the procedure.
For infants and children, the preparation you can provide for this test depends on your child's age, previous experiences, and level of trust. For general information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics:
How the test will feel
There may be slight discomfort as the cystoscope (a lighted instrument used to look at the bladder) is passed through your urethra into your bladder. You will feel an uncomfortable sensation -- similar to a strong urge to urinate -- when the fluid has filled your bladder.
You may feel a pinch during the biopsy. There may be a burning sensation when the blood vessels are sealed to stop bleeding (cauterized).
After the cystoscope is removed, your urethra may be sore. You may experience a burning sensation during urination for a day or two.
Sometimes when the suspicious area is larger, you will need general or spinal anesthesia to remove the area in question.
Why the test is performed
This test is most often performed to check for cancer of the bladder or urethra.
What abnormal results mean
The presence of cancer cells indicates bladder cancer. The type of cancer can be determined from the biopsy sample.
Other abnormalities may include:
What the risks are
There is some risk of urinary tract infection.
There is a slight risk of excessive bleeding or rupturing of the bladder wall with the cystoscope or during biopsy.
You will usually have a small amount of blood in your urine shortly after this procedure. If the bleeding continues after you urinate, contact your health care provider.
Also contact your health care provider if:
- You have pain, chills, or a fever
- You are producing less urine than usual (oliguria)
- You cannot urinate despite a strong urge to do so
Duffey B, Monga M. Principles of endoscopy. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 8.
Coburn M. Urologic surgery. In: Townsend CM Jr., Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 73.
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director and Director of Didactic Curriculum, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington; and Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.