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Bladder biopsy

Bladder biopsy is a procedure that involves removing a small piece of tissue from the bladder. The tissue is examined under a microscope.

How the Test is Performed

A bladder biopsy can be done as part of a cystoscopy (telescopic examination of the inside of the bladder). A small piece of tissue or the entire abnormal area is removed and sent to the lab to be tested if:

  • Abnormalities of the bladder are found during this exam
  • A tumor is seen

How to Prepare for the Test

You must sign an informed consent form before you have a bladder biopsy. In most cases, 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 discomfort that is 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 feel a burning sensation during urination for a day or two.

If the biopsy needs to be taken from a large area, you may need general or spinal anesthesia before the procedure.

Why the Test is Performed

This test is most often done to check for cancer of the bladder or urethra.

Normal Results

The bladder wall is smooth. The bladder is of a normal size, shape, and position. There are no blockages, growths, or stones.

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:

Risks

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.

There is also a risk that the biopsy will fail to diagnose a serious condition.

Considerations

You will likely 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.

Alternative Names

Biopsy - bladder

References

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.

Update Date: 6/2/2014

Updated by: Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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