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Endometrial Biopsy

Test Overview

An endometrial biopsy is a way for your doctor to take a small sample of the lining of the uterus (endometrium). The sample is looked at under a microscope for abnormal cells. An endometrial biopsy helps your doctor find problems in the endometrium.

An endometrial biopsy is sometimes done at the same time as another test, called hysteroscopy, which allows your doctor to look through a small lighted tube at the lining of the uterus.

Why It Is Done

An endometrial biopsy is done to check for cancer of the uterus. The test is also done if you have abnormal bleeding from your uterus. The test results show how your body's hormones are affecting the lining of the uterus, such as during menopause.

How To Prepare

  • If you take aspirin or some other blood thinner, ask your doctor if you should stop taking it before your test. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do. These medicines increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Ask your doctor if you should take a pain reliever, such as ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), 30 to 60 minutes before the test. This can help reduce any cramping pain that the test can cause.

How It Is Done

An endometrial biopsy is usually done by a gynecologist, a family medicine physician, or a nurse practitioner who has been trained to do the test. The sample will be looked at by a pathologist. The biopsy can be done in your doctor's office.

You may be told to empty your bladder just before the test.

You will need to take off your clothes below the waist. You will be given a covering to drape around your waist. You will then lie on your back on an examination table with your feet raised and supported by foot rests (stirrups).

Your doctor will do a bimanual pelvic exam first. This is done so the doctor can feel where and how large the pelvic organs are. Then the doctor will insert a lubricated tool called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum gently spreads apart the vaginal walls so your doctor can see the cervix and inside the vagina. The cervix is washed with a special solution and may be grasped and held in place with a clamp called a tenaculum.

Your cervix may be numbed with a spray or injection of local anesthetic.

The tool to collect the sample is guided through the cervix into the uterus. The tool may be moved up and down to collect the sample.

How long the test takes

The test will take about 5 to 15 minutes.

How It Feels

You may feel a sharp cramp as the tool is guided through your cervix. You may feel more cramping when the biopsy sample is collected. Most women find that the cramping feels like a really bad menstrual cramp.

Some women feel dizzy and sick to their stomachs. This is called a vasovagal reaction. This feeling will go away after the biopsy.

Risks

There is a small chance that the cervix or uterus could be punctured during the biopsy. Bleeding or a pelvic infection is also possible.

Results

Lab results from a biopsy may take several days to get back.

Endometrial biopsy

Normal:

No abnormal cells or cancer is found.

Abnormal:

A noncancerous (benign) growth, called a polyp, is present.

Overgrowth of the lining of the uterus (endometrial hyperplasia) is present.

Cancer or cell changes that may lead to cancer are present.

For a woman who has menstrual cycles, the lining of the uterus is very thin, thick, or fragile. All of these can cause bleeding.

Credits

Current as of: July 17, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Femi Olatunbosun MB, FRCSC - Obstetrics and Gynecology