When you are ill, doctors often many diagnostic tools at their disposal. One of these diagnostic tools often used by gastroenterologists is a procedure called a biopsy.
When a gastroenterologist suspects that you might have a significant digestive tract illness, they may order a biopsy.
In a gastric tissue biopsy, a small portion of tissue is extracted from a digestive system organ so that it can undergo a more intense examination.
Though tissue is often removed from the stomach, surgeons may remove samples from any organ they suspect may be damaged or diseased.
Reasons Biopsies Are Performed
Your doctor is likely to perform a biopsy if they suspect some type of discernible illness or other problematic issue.
For the gastrointestinal tract, gastroenterologists might order an endoscopic biopsy if you have symptoms such as:
- Continual, or moderate to severe abdominal discomfort.
- Appetite decline.
- Unintentional weight loss.
Additionally, biopsies may be ordered if you experience bleeding somewhere in your digestive network.
Bleeding can show itself in several ways. You might vomit or have bright red blood or black, tarry stool samples. The color might indicate where in the system the bleeding originates and possibly even hint at the underlying cause.
Typically, gastric biopsies are performed during a process called endoscopy.
Upper GI Endoscopies
Endoscopies are performed using devices known as endoscopes, which are small, relatively thin, camera-equipped tubes doctors insert into your mouth, down your throat, and through your digestive tract. The apparatus is also fitted with a small incision-making component capable of collecting tissue samples.
Upper GI endoscopies are used to view the higher part of the gastrointestinal system, including organs like the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine.
Lower GI Endoscopies
These tests are designed to examine the lower part of your digestive tract, such as your liver, colon, and rectum. Procedures such as colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies examine the entire large intestine or specific parts of it. Occasionally, biopsies are performed during these procedures.
Preparation varies from patient to patient.
You may need to take common preparatory steps such as refraining from food or beverage consumption or not taking specific medications for a specific period before the scheduled procedure.
The Actual Procedure
Before the procedure is started, you will need to remove loose-fitting dental work like dentures or other hardware.
Before insertion, a nurse will give you pain-alleviating medications, a calming agent, and a mouth protector. The mouth guard is used to protect your mouth, teeth, and the endoscope from damage.
An anesthetic may be applied to your oral cavity and throat to prevent gagging and coughing once the endoscope is gradually lowered down your alimentary canal. When all the preceding steps are completed, you will lie on your side, and the process starts.
As the device descends, small concentrations of air will be pumped into the areas in question. This slightly enlarges surrounding tissues enough to enable the examining physician to gain a better view.
Should your doctor identify any concerning areas, they will collect tissue samples.
Typically, endoscopies last anywhere from five to 30 minutes.
Conditions Biopsies Are Used To Detect
Biopsies are not only used to diagnose malignancies (identifying various forms of cancer) but are also used to confirm other illnesses such as ulcers and infections.
Where Does Biopsied Tissues Go?
After extraction, biopsied tissue is brought to a laboratory where specially-trained physicians (pathologists) carefully study the sample and help your doctor complete their diagnoses.
The Recovery Process
In most cases, recovery occurs quickly. Typically, you can return home the same day as your procedure. You might encounter mild to moderate side effects like:
- Throat and oral cavity soreness.
These occurrences often go away within several hours and do not return.
Usually, the results of gastric biopsies are returned within several days. If any of the tissues are suspect and need further testing, the process can take another week to 10 days.
Normal results occur when said biopsies show none of the following:
- The presence of H Pylori bacterium.
- Cell damage.
- Abnormal cell growth as seen in cancer and benign tumors.
- Inflammation of the gastrointestinal lining.
Your doctor will explain your results in detail. If some type of problem is identified, you and your doctor can plan treatment strategies. If the biopsy returned normal results, your doctor might recommend further evaluations to identify the root cause of the symptoms that initially caused the need for the procedure.
Biopsies can be scary. But the procedures are relatively painless, short, and they are not always ordered because your doctor suspects cancer.
Our practice began more than 15 years ago and has emerged as one of the leading gastroenterology practices in central Florida. We perform a host of diagnostic procedures using state-of-the-art equipment in a friendly, comfortable, and inviting atmosphere where patient care is always our top priority. Contact us today!