Head or Neck Biopsy Including Thyroid Biopsy

General Information | Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation | What to Expect

General information General Information

About Head and Neck Biopsies

Fine needle aspiration using ultrasound guidance is used to biopsy the thyroid.

A biopsy is generally performed when an abnormal mass or lump has been found part of the body, such as in the head or neck area. A biopsy is the most definitive way to determine if the abnormal tissue is cancerous. Imaging studies alone usually cannot provide a certain diagnosis on which to decide treatment options.

During a biopsy, a small amount of tissue is removed from the abnormal area with fine needles so a pathologist can examine the tissue for cancerous (malignant) cells. With a head, neck or thyroid biopsy, radiologists use ultrasound to watch the needle placement. This enables them to obtain tissue more precisely from the affected area.

The type of biopsy used for the head and neck area, including the thyroid, is a fine needle aspiration biopsy. This type of biopsy uses tiny needles, smaller than the needle used to draw blood. This procedure requires no stitches, results in minimal bruising, and usually does not leave a scar.

Risks Involved in a Head or Neck Biopsy

The risks involved in a head, neck or thyroid biopsy include the following:

  • Bleeding and infection
  • A hematoma or collection of blood at the biopsy site
  • Swelling and discomfort
  • Temporary facial numbness and hoarseness of the voice
  • Rarely, the pathologist may request that an area be re-biopsied because of indeteriminate or insufficient results

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Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation Scheduling, Insurance and Preparation

Exam Locations

Head and neck biopsies are performed at the following Invision Sally Jobe locations in the Denver, Colorado area:

Call 720-493-3700 to schedule.


Contact your personal physician for a referral for this exam. Then call 720-493-3700 to schedule.

Insurance Coverage

Head and neck biopsies are usually covered by insurance when ordered by a physician. Check with your insurance company to be sure. Please bring your insurance card with you to your procedure.

Conditions to Let Us Know About

In advance of your procedure, let your scheduler, technologist, or radiologist know if any of the following circumstances apply to you:

  • Allergic to any medications or anesthetics
  • Currently taking blood thinning medication
  • Taking aspirin or medications that contain aspirin
  • Been told that you have a bleeding problem
  • Currently pregnant

Preparation Guidelines

Following are the general preparation guidelines for fine needle aspiration biopsies. You may receive additional or differing guidelines based on your specific situation. Please contact us at 720-493-3700 if you have any questions.

  • Do not take blood thinning medications, including aspirin and ibuprofen, for 3 days prior to the procedure. (Check with your doctor to ensure it is safe to stop your medications.)
  • Bring any images and reports you have that were not done by Invision Sally Jobe.

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What to Expect What to Expect

Before the Procedure

Before your head, neck or thyroid biopsy, you may need to have additional pre-procedure exams, such as blood tests or an ultrasound.

During the Procedure

An RIA radiologist performs an image guided thyroid biopsy.

Here is generally what will happen during a head or neck biopsy:

  1. You will fill out paperwork and consent forms.
  2. You may need to change into a gown.
  3. A nurse or technologist will further explain the procedure and answer any questions you have.
  4. The technologist will position you on a padded biopsy table.
  5. The radiologist will use ultrasound to locate the abnormal tissue.
  6. While watching the ultrasound monitor, the radiologist will carefully insert a fine biopsy needle into the abnormal tissue.
  7. The needle and it will be moved backward and forward several times to obtain a good sample of cells. Four samples are usually taken.
  8. Pressure will be applied for several minutes.
  9. The biopsy site will be cleaned and a bandage will be applied.
  10. You will change back into your usual clothes if necessary.

This procedure takes about 30 minutes.

After the Procedure


You may experience soreness at the site of the biopsy for 24-48 hours. Follow these instructions to help with your recovery:

  • Leave the bandage over the biopsy site for several hours. After that you can bathe or shower as usual.
  • No heavy lifting or strenuous activities for 24 hours.
  • Use ice packs or acetaminophen to minimize discomfort.

Exam Results

Your specimen will be sent to a laboratory so a pathologist can examine it. The results are usually available in 24-72 hours and will be reported to your physician. You can get your results from your physician.

During the biopsy, our radiologists and technologists will be happy to answer questions about the procedure itself; however, they will not immediately provide you with the results of your biopsy.

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