Skip navigation

Rectal biopsy

A rectal biopsy is a procedure to remove a small piece of rectal tissue for examination.

How the Test is Performed

A rectal biopsy is usually part of anoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.

A digital rectal exam is done first. Then, a lubricated instrument (anoscope or proctoscope) is placed into the rectum. You will feel some discomfort when this is done.

A biopsy can be taken through any of these instruments.

How to Prepare for the Test

You may get a laxative, enema, or other preparation before the biopsy so that you can completely empty your bowels. This will allow the doctor a clear view of the rectum.

How the Test Will Feel

There will be some discomfort during the procedure. You may feel like you need to have a bowel movement. You may feel cramping or mild discomfort as the instrument is placed into the rectal area.

Why the Test is Performed

A rectal biopsy is used to determine the cause of abnormal growths found during anoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or other tests. It can also be used to confirm the diagnosis of amyloidosis.

Normal Results

The anus and rectum appear normal in size, color, and shape. There should be no evidence of bleeding, polyps, hemorrhoids, or other abnormalities. No problems are seen when the biopsy tissue is examined under a microscope.

What Abnormal Results Mean

This test is a common way to confirm amyloidosis. It also determines the specific causes of abnormal conditions of the rectum, such as colitis. Other findings could include:

The test may be also performed for:

Risks

There is some risk of bleeding and tearing. Occasionally, patients may develop difficulty with urination after the procedure.

Alternative Names

Biopsy - rectum

Update Date: 12/10/2012

Updated by: Robert A. Cowles, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, and Stephanie Slon.

A.D.A.M Quality Logo

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org). URAC's accreditation program is an independent audit to verify that A.D.A.M. follows rigorous standards of quality and accountability. A.D.A.M. is among the first to achieve this important distinction for online health information and services. Learn more about A.D.A.M.'s editorial policy, editorial process and privacy policy. A.D.A.M. is also a founding member of Hi-Ethics and subscribes to the principles of the Health on the Net Foundation (www.hon.ch).

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 1997-2014, A.D.A.M., Inc. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized in writing by ADAM Health Solutions.

A.D.A.M Logo