Tissue biopsies

Though not always indicated, tissue biopsies can be an essential feature in the diagnosing, staging, and management of your pet. The process involves the removal of a small amount of tissue from the area of interest. Depending on what is required, this procedure can be performed with either local anesthetics and sedation or may require general anesthesia.

To obtain a small sample in a readily accessible area, your pet will be sedated or placed under general anesthesia. If any overlying hair is present it will be removed to ensure the procedure remains sterile. Local anesthetics may then be injected followed by the removal of a small tissue core (needle biopsy) or larger circular core of tissue (punch biopsy). A skin stitch may be required that will be removed 10-14 days later. For these smaller procedures an overnight stay for observation is not generally required. However, animals may need to be discharged with an Elizabethan collar (E-collar) or other deterrent to ensure they do not traumatize the site being tested.

For internal lesions or to obtain larger amounts of tissue a more invasive surgical biopsy may be required. The specific procedure for your pet will be discussed with you prior to testing. Briefly, your pet will be placed under general anesthesia. A skin incision will be made overlying the affected area (incisional biopsy) or around the lesion (excisional biopsy). After removing the required tissue, several stitches will be placed. Although hospitalized care is not always required, depending on the type of biopsy and your pet's recovery from general anesthesia, they may need to remain with us for up to 48 hours after the procedure.

Short term, mild discomfort may result with either type of biopsy. Therefore your pet may be placed on an anti-inflammatory or other anti-pain medication to ensure that any discomfort is minimized. Over the next several days it is important to monitor the area for any excessive redness, discharge, swelling or pain and equally important, do not let your pet lick or irritate the biopsy site. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact your veterinarian immediately for guidance.

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