Biopsy Procedure

  • EmailFacebookTwitter
    Share on Facebook
    Share on Twitter
    A short URL will be added to the end of your Tweet.

    Share on LinkedIn
Printer Friendly


A biopsy is a surgical procedure in which a small amount of tumor tissue is removed and sent to a lab for evaluation. The purpose of a biopsy is to establish a diagnosis in a patient who has a tumor.


A biopsy can be performed as part of the surgery to remove a tumor, or as a separate procedure. In either case, the surgeon removes a small amount of tumor tissue and sends it to a lab for a pathologist to review.


Three types of biopsy are often performed in patients with brain tumors:

  • Needle Biopsy: A small cut is made and a small hole, called a burr hole, is drilled in the skull. A narrow, hollow needle is inserted through the hole, and tumor tissue is removed from the core of the needle. The surgeon then sends the tumor tissue to a pathologist for study and review.
  • Stereotactic Biopsy: The same procedure as a needle biopsy, but performed with a computer-assisted guidance system that aids in the location and diagnosis of the tumor. The computer, using information from a CT or MRI scan, provides precise information about a tumor’s location and its position relative to the many structures in the brain. Stereotactically guided equipment might be moved into the burr hole to remove a sample of the tumor. The surgeon then sends the tumor sample to a pathologist for study and review. This is also called a closed biopsy.
  • Open Biopsy: The tissue sample is taken during an operation while the tumor is exposed. The surgeon then sends the sample to a pathologist for study and review.

If the results of your biopsy are not normal, you will be sent back to the doctor for further tests and advice.


It is important to note that the information provided here is basic and does not take the place of an in-person assessment by a physician. If you have any questions about how brain tumors are diagnosed, please contact your doctor.