What is a Biopsy?

A biopsy is a medical procedure in Singapore which a small sample of your tissue is extracted for examination in a laboratory. A brain biopsy, specifically, is used as a diagnostic method to identify types of brain tumours or lesions in the brain. A biopsy is typically performed when other non-invasive diagnostic methods, such as imaging (MRIs, X-rays, or CT scans) and blood tests are inconclusive.

Additionally, a biopsy provides the opportunity to lay out a tailored treatment plan and determine the stage or severity of a disease, which is crucial for predicting the likely course of your illness and prognosis. In cases of chronic diseases, repeated biopsies over time can help monitor how your condition is progressing and adjust treatment strategies accordingly.

Brain biopsy
Samples collected during a biopsy are sent to a laboratory for detailed analysis of irregularities in the brain and to inform future management of a brain condition.

How does a Biopsy work?

There are a few biopsy methods in Singapore that may be employed to extract samples from the brain for analysis. Types of biopsy methods include: 

  • Tumour resection: a tumour sample is fully or partially removed and sent for further investigation.
  • Needle biopsy: also known as percutaneous tissue biopsy, samples are retrieved by inserting a needle through the skin. This is employed where the tumour or suspicious growth is palpable. 
  • Neuroendoscopy: a neuroendoscopy involves an endoscope inserted through incisions or natural openings in the body, such as the nose, to locate and visualise irregularities in the brain. A sample is then extracted and sent for analysis. 
  • Surgical biopsy: a sample is extracted during a craniotomy.  
Brain biopsy
A biopsy is often conducted during a preceding surgery, where samples are collected subsequently.

Patients are sedated using general anaesthesia to ensure their comfort and safety. Biopsies are relatively invasive, therefore, there are only considered when the benefits of obtaining a definitive diagnosis outweigh the risks associated with the surgery.

Benefits of a Biopsy

  • Accurate diagnosis
  • Effective treatment planning
  • Provides prognostic information
  • Accurate monitoring of disease progression
  • Confirmation of non-cancerous conditions

What conditions can a Biopsy diagnose in Singapore?

If you have any of the conditions listed above, make an appointment with Chou Neuroscience Clinic for customised treatment.

MRI of brain lesion
A biopsy will provide a definitive diagnosis of abnormalities identified in the brain.

What results can I expect from a brain Biopsy?

The results you can expect when undergoing a biopsy depend on several factors. These include the reason for the biopsy, the type of tissue or sample collected, and the laboratory analysing the sample.

Some general expectations regarding biopsy results include diagnosis confirmation, disease identification, staging (the extent and spread of the diseases), treatment guidance, prognostic information, and personalised care.

It is important to note that the timing of receiving biopsy results varies. Some results may be available within a few days, while more complex cases may take several weeks. Your neurosurgeon should communicate the results, explain their significance, and discuss the next steps in your medical care. If you have concerns or questions about your biopsy results, discuss them with your neurosurgeon.

How many sessions of a Biopsy are needed?

The number of sessions needed after the initial biopsy varies widely depending on the nature of your condition and the treatment approach your neurosurgeon recommends.  Sometimes, a biopsy may be a one-time procedure to obtain diagnostic information. However, you may require multiple sessions for ongoing treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or disease management.

Your neurosurgeon will determine the appropriate sessions based on your diagnosis and treatment plan. It is essential to have open and regular communication with them to understand your treatment schedule and expectations related to your biopsy and any subsequent sessions.

Frequently asked questions  

Is a biopsy painful?

A biopsy is not typically painful during the procedure as local anaesthesia is used to numb the area, so you will not feel any pain. However, you may experience some discomfort or mild pain after the procedure, which can be managed with pain medication.

What are the risks of a biopsy?

A biopsy, like any medical procedure, carries certain risks. These can include bleeding, infection, damage to surrounding structures, and adverse reactions to anaesthesia. Your doctor will carefully assess these risks and discuss them with you before the procedure so that you can make an informed decision.

Are there alternatives to a biopsy?

Yes, there are alternatives to a biopsy depending on the (and your specific) situation. Non-invasive diagnostic techniques such as MRI and CT scans can often provide valuable information about brain abnormalities. Additionally, less invasive procedures such as lumbar punctures or blood tests may be considered to gather diagnosis. 
It is important to note that biopsies are not usually recommended as the first line of diagnostic investigation. Your neurosurgeon will explore less invasive methods first in most cases. 

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Copyright © 2023 Chou Neuroscience Clinic. All Rights Reserved