A biliary tract biopsy is the removal of small amounts of cells and fluids from the duodenum, bile ducts, pancreas, or pancreatic duct. The sample is examined under a microscope.
A sample for a biliary tract biopsy can be obtained in different ways.
A needle biopsy can be done if you have a well-defined tumor.
If you have a narrowing or blockage of the bile or pancreatic ducts, a sample can be taken during procedures such as:
You may not be able to eat or drink 8 to 12 hours or more before the test. Your health care provider will tell you ahead of time what you need to do.
Make sure you have someone to drive you home.
How the test will feel depends on the type of procedure used to remove the biopsy sample. With a needle biopsy, you may feel a sting as the needle is inserted. Some people feel a cramping or pinching feeling during the procedure.
Medicines that stop pain and help you relax are commonly used for other biliary tract biopsy methods.
A biliary tract biopsy can determine if a tumor started in the liver or spread from another location. It also can determine if the tumor is cancerous.
This test may be done:
A normal result means there are no signs of cancer, disease, or infection in the biopsy sample.
Abnormal results may be due to:
Risks depend on how the biopsy sample was taken.
Risks may include:
Reviewed By: Michael M. Phillips, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine, The George Washington University School of Medicine, Washington, DC. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.