Twenty years ago, doctors performed biopsies using a large surgical incision. Today, they can do the same procedure through a tiny cut in the skin, thanks to image-guided biopsies.
“People typically need biopsies to diagnose an abnormality in the body, such as cancer,” says Blair G. Gill, MD, radiologist at Saint Francis Medical Center. “With image-guided biopsies, we perform a computed tomography (CT) scan during the procedure so we can have a three-dimensional view of the abnormality. Then, we use a small needle to withdraw a tissue or fluid specimen of the area.”
For example, in a patient with lung cancer, the CT image allows the doctor to specify exactly where he or she needs to extract a sample without needing to open the patient’s chest. “The procedure is less risky because we do not have to use a general anesthetic and open the patient’s chest with surgery,” says Gill.
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