Polyp biopsy

What is a Polyp Biopsy?

A polyp biopsy is a procedure that involves removing all or part of a polyp—a small growth—from the lining of your digestive tract. It’s usually done with a long, flexible tube with a cutting device inside (an endoscope) that is inserted into your rectum or digestive tract through your mouth.

Why is a Polyp Biopsy done?

Polyp biopsies are done to:

  • Identify growths in the digestive tract
  • Determine the exact cause of unexplained digestive symptoms, such as abdominal pain or rectal bleeding
  • Determine if polyps are cancerous
  • Monitor the progression of a chronic digestive condition

How to Prepare for a Polyp Biopsy?

Your doctor will provide specific instructions and explain any risks, but general instructions usually include:

  • Notify your doctor of any medications you are taking, including any over-the-counter medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements
  • Avoid food, drink, and medications, such as anti-inflammatory drugs 12 hours before the procedure
  • Avoid smoking for 12 hours before the procedure
  • Discuss any allergies you have with your doctor

Types of Polyp Biopsy

The most common polyp biopsy procedures are:

  • Colonoscopy: A small camera on a flexible tube is inserted into your rectum and used to examine your rectum and colon. Your doctor might take tissue samples during the procedure.
  • Endoscopic mucosal resection: The endoscope is used to remove and collect the polyp from your digestive tract.
  • Endoscopic ultrasounds: This procedure combines an ultrasound image with an endoscope. Ultrasound waves are used to create an image of the polyp and surrounding area.

Risks of Polyp Biopsy

Risks of a polyp biopsy include:

  • Bleeding or infection in the digestive tract
  • Injury to the digestive tract
  • Perforation (a hole) in the wall of the digestive tract
  • Adverse reaction to medications or anesthesia
  • A risk of cancer if precancerous polyps are seen

Recovery from a Polyp Biopsy

Recovery from a polyp biopsy is usually straightforward. You should be able to resume eating after a few hours, but your doctor will advise on how soon you can start eating and drinking. Your doctor may also advise when it’s OK to drive, lift heavy objects, or exercise. It can take up to two weeks for the pain and other side effects to disappear.