What is an endometrial biopsy?

An endometrial biopsy is a gynecologic procedure that involves removing a small sample of tissue from the lining of the uterus. The tissue sample will be analyzed in a laboratory for abnormal cells or variation in hormone levels. An endometrial biopsy can help your doctor diagnose a variety of medical conditions or check for uterine infections.

Who is a candidate for an endometrial biopsy?

Your doctor may recommend an endometrial biopsy if you have any of the following conditions:

  • Severe menstrual bleeding
  • Bleeding that occurs after menopause

You may also need an endometrial biopsy to:

  • Check for a uterine infection such as endometriosis
  • To check the effects of hormone therapy
  • Understand the abnormal bleeding
  • Diagnose endometrial cancer or find other abnormal cells

If you have a vaginal or cervical infection, pelvic inflammatory disease or cervical cancer, an endometrial biopsy may not be appropriate.

What are the risks of an endometrial biopsy?

Although an endometrial biopsy is generally a safe procedure, complications can occur. Complications associated endometrial biopsy include:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection in the pelvic region
  • Puncture a hole in the uterine wall
  • Adverse reaction to iodine, latex or medicines

If you are pregnant, inform your doctor. If you are pregnant, you have a high risk of miscarriage during an endometrial biopsy.

What to expect during an endometrial biopsy?

An endometrial biopsy is typically performed in your doctor’s office and takes only 10 minutes or so to complete. This procedure is not performed under anesthesia, so you can go home after the procedure. In some cases, an endometrial biopsy is performed as a part of a more serious medical examination in the hospital.

In preparation for the procedure, you will undress from the waist down, empty your bladder and lie down on an exam table with your feet in stirrups. Your doctor will insert a speculum into your vagina to spread the walls apart and enable him or her to have a clear view of the cervix. Your doctor will clean the cervix and numb it with a numbing spray. A uterine sound, a thin medical instrument, may be used to determine the length of the cervix and locate the best spot for the biopsy. A catheter will then be inserted through the cervix into the uterus. Once the catheter is in the correct location, your doctor will collect samples of endometrial tissue. You may experience mild cramping during this process. Your doctor will then remove the medical instruments and send the tissue sample to a lab for evaluation.

Recovery from an endometrial biopsy

Most patients are able to go home after the procedure. If you needed a sedative, you will need to coordinate transportation home. You may experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Vaginal bleeding
  • Mild cramping
  • Spotting

Your doctor will give you strict instructions for recovery including:

  • Do not insert any items, such as tampons or douches, into the vagina or participate in sexual activity for at least three days after the endometrial biopsy.
  • Do not participate in any strenuous activity or lift anything heavy for a few days after the procedure.
  • Schedule a follow-up visit as instructed by your Mercy Health doctor.

Call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms that indicate infection:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Foul smelling or yellowish discharge from the vagina
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Severe abdominal pain

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