For some conditions, imaging alone cannot always provide doctors with the information needed to make a diagnosis. Further analysis through a lung biopsy allows doctors to examine the tissue within the nodule, sometimes with the assistance of a robot.

What Is a Lung Biopsy?

A lung biopsy is a procedure to obtain samples of suspicious lung tissue. The samples help doctors determine if a small mass or nodule is benign or cancerous. Lung nodules are abnormal areas of shadow on the lungs seen on a chest X-ray or CT scan. Other pulmonary issues that can be diagnosed with a lung biopsy are hypersensitivity pneumonitis, sarcoidosis and infections like tuberculosis.

There are many ways to get tissue samples for biopsy. Your doctor can help you decide which biopsy approach is recommended for your condition depending on the size of the nodule, its location and overall health.

How Is a Lung Biopsy Done?

In an Ion robotic-assisted bronchoscopy, your doctor will guide a flexible, ultra-thin catheter through your nose or mouth to check and get samples from the area with suspected abnormalities. The catheter will lock in place once it reaches the nodule's location for biopsy. Your doctor will then insert the necessary tools to perform the biopsy. The procedure can take up to an hour to complete.

How Painful Is a Lung Biopsy?

In general, lung biopsy is quick and painless, but you may have to stay in the hospital for a few hours until the sedatives wear off. Your ability to cough should return after two hours, and you may safely eat and drink again. For a few days, you may have minor discomforts, like sore throat and hoarseness. However, most people return to their usual activities 24 hours following surgery.

What Is Robotic Bronchoscopy?

Bronchoscopy is a biopsy technique used to look and take photos of air passages with a tiny camera attached at the end of a flexible tube connected to a video screen. It comes with a tube that collects tissue samples from the lung for diagnostic purposes. The Ion Endoluminal System by Intuitive enables doctors to perform robotic-assisted bronchoscopy with precision. With Ion, doctors can reach small lesions in all 18 segments of the lung needed for biopsy. Its features include:

  • An ultra-thin catheter and integrated vision probe provide doctors with direct vision to reach all parts of the lungs.
  • A shape-sensing technology that provides precise location and shape information throughout the whole biopsy process and holds the catheter in place for accurate placement for biopsy tools.
  • A catheter that can move 180 degrees in all directions and the FlexisionTM biopsy needle, a flexible biopsy needle compatible with Ion, help enable biopsy.

How Long Does It Take To Get Bronchoscopy Biopsy Results?

When the medications wear off, your doctor may discuss with you the initial findings during the procedure. However, it can take several days or weeks for the biopsy results to arrive. Abnormal results, such as blockages or unusual cells or fluids in the bronchi, can indicate one or more of the following issues and conditions, which may require further tests or treatments:

  • Benign tumors
  • Cancer
  • Certain infections (bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic)
  • Lung disease (fibrosis)
  • Rheumatoid lung disease
  • Sarcoidosis (inflammation that affects the lungs and other body tissues)
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis (inflammation of the blood vessels)
  • Pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs)

How Can I Prepare for Biopsy?

Your doctor will instruct you not to eat or drink after midnight the night before the procedure. Be sure to inform your doctor about the medications you are taking and for what conditions and ask if you can take them before the biopsy. The sedative medicine can remain in your body for several hours after the procedure, which makes driving dangerous. Be sure to designate someone to take you home after being discharged.

Insurances Accepted and Payment Plan Options

Putting your health first requires making important decisions. At North Central Baptist Hospital, we'll provide you with all the information you need upfront, including financial obligations.

We have made it easier for you to make payment arrangements that fit your budget through out-of-pocket prices and procedures for your peace of mind. North Central Baptist Hospital works with various insurance providers and offers flexible payment plans for most treatments and procedures. Call 210-297-4000 to learn how we make healthcare more affordable.

Your health can't wait. If you have an upcoming procedure or surgery you've been putting off; our dedicated staff is ready to address your questions and help make financial arrangements. Visit our patient financial resources page to learn about our insurance, billing, payment plans, pricing information and estimates.

Find a Doctor in San Antonio

If you have a diagnosis or need to speak with one of our doctors to learn more about your symptoms, North Central Baptist Hospital is your partner in care so that you can get the treatment suited to your unique needs. Please call 866-309-2873 or find a doctor near your location here. If it's an emergency, please call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. We’re here for you, always.