About Endometrial Biopsy
When small pieces of tissues are removed from the lining of the uterus, known as endometrium, for detailed examination, it is called an endometrial biopsy. It is necessary to know about the procedure of endometrial biopsy and its side effects to make an informed decision.
Samples are taken during an endometrial biopsy. The doctor makes use of these samples of endometrial tissue to look for abnormal cell growth and diagnose certain health issues or conditions in the patient. These tissue samples can show changes in its cells which may be caused due to variations in the hormone levels. In some cases, the purpose of the biopsy is to check for endometritis or other uterine infections.
Endometrial biopsy may also be carried out to check overgrowth in the endometrial lining, cancerous cells or to find the cause of abnormal bleeding in the uterus. If a woman finds it difficult to get pregnant, then her doctor might carry out an endometrial biopsy to determine whether the woman’s uterus lining can support a pregnancy or not.
Procedure of Endometrial Biopsy
The doctor does not require the use of anesthesia in order to perform the endometrial biopsy. The entire procedure of endometrial biopsy takes about 10 minutes. There are several ways in which a woman can prepare herself for an endometrial biopsy. These would include telling your doctor about the following:
- If you think you might be pregnant or are actually pregnant, you must tell your doctor about it. The procedure of endometrial biopsy is not carried out during pregnancy.
- If you have been treated for a pelvic, cervical or vaginal infection ever in your life.
- If you are taking any medications or are allergic to any.
- If you are experiencing any lung or heart issues.
- If you are experiencing bleeding issues or are taking blood-thinner medications.
Do not use any kind of vaginal medicine or tampons for 24 hours prior to the biopsy. Also, the doctor will make you empty your bladder before the biopsy is performed. You may be advised to take a pain reliever around an hour before the biopsy helps to reduce any cramps and pain which be caused due to the biopsy.
Your doctor will also ask you to sign a consent form which says that you understand the risks associated with the biopsy and have given consent for it to be done. Discuss any concerns or issues that are troubling you about the biopsy beforehand.
It is always advisable to get an endometrial biopsy done by either a certified and trained gynecologist, nurse practitioner or a family physician that you can trust completely. Once the biopsy is over, the sample tissues are analyzed by a pathologist. Being a simple procedure, the biopsy is carried out in the doctor’s office itself.
The doctor’s assistant will ask you to remove all clothes below the waist and cover it with a drape. Your doctor will then ask you to lie down on your back on the examination table and allow you to get comfortable. You will be asked to raise your feet and keep them on the foot rests known as stirrups.
Your doctor shall first insert a speculum in your vagina which is a lubricated tool used to carry out the biopsy. This tool helps spread the walls of the vagina gently allowing the doctor to see inside the vagina and the cervix as well. A special solution is then used to wash the cervix after which it is held in place with a tenaculum, a type of clamp.
To begin with the procedure of endometrial biopsy, a local anesthetic may be either sprayed or injected in the cervix to numb it. The speculum is guided through the cervix once it is numb and made to enter the uterus to collect the tissue sample. It may also be moved horizontally for proper collection of the sample. In almost 70 percent of biopsies the women feels some amount of cramping as the biopsy is carried.
It takes around 7 to 10 days to get the result of the biopsy.
Side Effects of Endometrial Biopsy
Here are some of the most common possible side effects of endometrial biopsy:
- Prolonged Bleeding or Pain – Several women who undergo the procedure of endometrial biopsy may experience mild cramping during and after the procedure. Some women may also experience bleeding. Though in most cases the pain can be controlled with over-the-counter drugs and bleeding subsides on its own, in some cases the bleeding and pain become excessive and the women might have to consult her doctor to talk to him about the same.
- Perforation – An occasion side effect of endometrial biopsy is uterine perforation. In very rare cases, the tool used to carry out the biopsy punctures the uterine walls thereby creating a hole in it. The doctor will discontinue the procedure in case this happens. The uterus might pain for the next day though the woman might return to normal activities soon after. If she experiences fever, blood loss or excessive pain she should immediately report it to her doctor who can help her best. Once the hole heals completely, the doctor might repeat the procedure.
- Infection in the Pelvis – A not so common side effect of endometrial biopsy is infection in the uterine tubes or the uterus itself. Some of the symptoms of such an infection include lower abdominal pain, chills, fever and vaginal discharge which have a foul smell to it. The patient might be given antibiotics in such a case which is best discussed with the doctor in-charge.
- Damage to the Pregnancy – Since the womb is tampered during an endometrial biopsy, it can also damage an existing pregnancy. This is the reason why your doctor will not perform a biopsy if you are pregnant. In order to ensure that the patient is not pregnant, many doctors also perform a quick pregnancy test before performing the biopsy.
Now that you know about the procedure of endometrial biopsy, you will know what to expect during it and will be able to plan properly. When you know how to prepare for the same, it works as an added advantage for you as a patient.
Since the side effects of endometrial biopsy have also been discussed, you are more aware and take appropriate action. The procedure of endometrial biopsy is simple and quick and is generally safe for most patients.