Endometrial Biopsy

(Biopsy, Endometrial)
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  • Definition

    This is a procedure to remove a tissue sample from the lining of the uterus (womb).
    The Endometrium
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  • Reasons for Procedure

    An endometrial biopsy may be done to:
    • Evaluate the cause of bleeding in postmenopausal women
    • Evaluate heavy menstrual bleeding or bleeding between menstrual periods
    • Obtain a tissue sample to test for cancer or precancerous conditions
    • Monitor the uterine lining in women on estrogen replacement therapy
    • Help evaluate the cause of infertility or repeated miscarriages
  • Possible Complications

    If you are planning to have an endometrial biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
    • Infection
    • Bleeding
    • Damage to the uterus (rare)
    Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
    Be sure to discuss these risks with your doctor before the procedure. If you are pregnant, the test cannot be done.
  • What to Expect

    Prior to Procedure
    You may need to schedule the biopsy for a certain time during your menstrual cycle.
    Your doctor may do the following:
    • Physical and pelvic exam
    • Blood tests
    • Urine test
    Leading up to your procedure, you may be advised to:
    • Take a pain reliever one hour before the procedure
    • Wear or bring a sanitary pad
    Usually none is needed. Sometimes local anesthesia is used to numb the cervix.
    Description of the Procedure
    A speculum will be used to look into the vagina. An instrument called a tenaculum will be used to grasp the cervix. A flexible, thin, suction tube will be passed through the vagina and into the uterus. A small sample of endometrial tissue will be suctioned out.
    Immediately After Procedure
    After the biopsy, you may feel lightheaded. Lying down for 5-10 minutes will help. When you feel better, you will be able to go home.
    How Long Will It Take?
    About 10-15 minutes
    Will It Hurt?
    You may feel some cramping and pressure during the biopsy. Your doctor may give you pain medication after the procedure.
    Post-procedure Care
    When you return home after the procedure, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
    • Expect some cramping and bleeding. Use sanitary napkins. Do not use tampons.
    • Ask your doctor when you can resume:
      • Using tampons
      • Having sex
    • Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions.
    Your doctor will receive results in about a week. She will work with you to create a treatment plan.
  • Call Your Doctor

    After arriving home, contact your doctor if any of the following occurs:
    • Excessive bleeding (more than your normal menstrual period or saturating a pad within one hour)
    • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
    • Severe pain
    • Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
    • Nausea and/or vomiting
    If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.

    American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org

    The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org


    Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

    Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca


    Abnormal uterine bleeding. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/abnormal-uterine-bleeding.html. Updated February 2014. Accessed October 30, 2014.

    Endometrial cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/endometrialcancer/index. Accessed October 30, 2014.

    6/2/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/ : Mills E, Eyawo O, Lockhart I, Kelly S, Wu P, Ebbert JO. Smoking cessation reduces postoperative complications: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Med. 2011;124(2):144-154.e8.

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