A uterine biopsy is a procedure performed to obtain a small sample of tissue from the lining of the uterus called the endometrium. After the biopsy, the tissue of the uterus is examined under a microscope in order to determine the presence of abnormal cells or the effect of hormones on the endometrium.
Other related procedures used to evaluate and treat uterine problems include dilation, curettage, hysteroscopy, and uterine ablation.
The uterus is a hollow, pear-shaped organ located in the lower abdomen of a woman, between the bladder and rectum. The uterus sheds its mucous membrane every month during menstruation if a fertilized egg is not implanted and pregnancy occurs.
- The ovaries. Two female reproductive organs, located in the pelvis, in which eggs develop and are stored and where the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone are produced.
- Neck. The lower, narrower part of the uterus, located between the bladder and rectum, forms a canal that opens into the vagina.
- Vagina (also called the birth canal). The channel through which fluid is released from the body during menstruation. The vagina connects the cervix and the vulva (external genitals).
- Vulva. The outer part of the female genital organs.
Reasons for the procedure
A biopsy may be recommended for women with abnormal menstrual bleeding, postmenopausal bleeding, or no uterine bleeding. Biopsy results may indicate cellular changes associated with hormone levels, or the presence of abnormal tissues, such as fibroids or polyps, that can lead to abnormal bleeding. An endometrial biopsy can also be used to check for uterine infections.
A biopsy of the uterus can also be used to check the effects of hormone therapy or to check for abnormal cells. Cancer of the uterus is the most common disease of the female genital organs.
Your healthcare provider may have other reasons to recommend an endometrial biopsy.
Risks of the procedure
As with any surgical procedure, complications can arise. Some possible complications may include the following:
- pelvic infection;
- puncture of the uterine wall with a biopsy device, which is rare.
Patients who are allergic or sensitive to drugs, iodine or latex should notify their healthcare provider.
If you are pregnant or suspect that you may be pregnant, you must inform your doctor. A biopsy during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage.
There may be other risks depending on your specific health condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your doctor prior to your procedure.
Certain factors or conditions can interfere with a uterine biopsy. These factors include:
- acute vaginal or cervical infections;
- acute inflammation of the pelvic organs;
- cervical cancer.
Before the procedure
Your healthcare provider will explain the procedure to you and invite you to ask any questions you may have about the procedure.
As a rule, no preliminary preparation is required. However, your doctor may recommend that you take pain reliever 30 minutes before your procedure.
Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications, iodine, latex, tape, and anesthetics (local and general).