Percutaneous lung biopsy

A percutaneous lung biopsy is a tissue sample from the lung through the skin.


We hope this information answers some of the questions you may have about this procedure.

Lung biopsy

A Percutaneous lung biopsy is a tissue sample from the lung through the skin. The procedure is performed under local anesthesia. The doctor removes a tissue sample with a thin cannula, which is inserted into the lung through the skin. You will be examined with an x-ray machine to determine where the best sample site is.  In Danish the procedure is called ’vævsprøve af lungen’ or ’lungebiopsi’.

Before the procedure

If you take blood thinners (anticoagulants), you should not take them for several days prior to the procedure. The nurse will tell you how many days you need to skip.

You may not eat for a minimum of 6 hours before the procedure. You may drink water up to 2 hours before.

We recommend that you do not smoke for a few days before the procedure.

On the day of the procedure

On the morning of the procedure you may brush your teeth and rinse your mouth without swallowing. You may take your regular morning medications with a little glass of water, by agreement with the nurse, at the latest 2 hours before the procedure.

Please do not use nail polish or lipstick.

At the hospital

You should come at:

Date: ____________________________
Department (afd.): _______________

Here you will be provided with patient clothing and a bed.

The staff will measure your blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen saturation (oximetry) in your blood.

A plastic cannula (drop) will be inserted in your hand or arm, so the doctor can give you medicine intravenously if necessary.

An orderly will take you to the procedure room.

In the procedure room

You will be greeted by medical and nursing staff, which will help prepare you for the procedure.

Before the biopsy is performed, the doctor will examine your lungs with an x-ray machine. Then you will receive local anesthetic in the muscles and skin of your chest. When the anesthesia works, the doctor will insert a thin cannula between two ribs and remove the tissue sample.

When the local anesthetic is injected, you may feel pressure and tightness in your skin until the anesthetic works. The procedure itself is not painful.

Length of procedure

The procedure usually takes about 30 minutes.

After the procedure

You will be taken back to the recovery room, where a nurse will monitor your condition.

You may eat and drink immediately after the procedure.

You can arrange with the nurse when you can get up.

The plastic cannula in your hand will be removed before you go home.

If you have received any sedative medications during the procedure, you should take a taxi, Falck, or be driven home by a family member or friend. You may not drive a car for the rest of the day, and you should not travel alone before the next day.

Collapsed lung? – a risk

One of your lungs can, in rare cases, collapse after the procedure.

In order to check, whether this has happened, a chest x-ray will be taken about 1 hour after the procedure.

If your lung has collapsed, the doctor will insert a drain (a thin tube) between the membranes around the lung (pleura). When the drain is in place, the lung can unfold again.

In this case you will be admitted to the Pulmonology ward. You will be discharged as soon as the drain is removed, usually after 1-3 days.

If your chest x-ray is fine, you can go home.

You may not be alone during the first 24 hours after the procedure. If you do not have family or a friend who can stay with you, you will be admitted to the ward until the next day.


After the procedure it is normal to cough a little blood up. If you cough large amounts of blood up, you should contact a doctor. Hoarseness and an irritated cough are not uncommon.

The first day after the procedure it is normal to have a little fever. If the fever continues, you should contact a doctor.

If you develop difficulty breathing, a fast pulse or heart palpitations, chest pain or pain that radiates up into your neck or out into your arm, it can be a sign that your lung has collapsed. In this case you should contact us.


You will receive the results of the procedure during an appointment with a doctor in our pulmonology clinic. The appointment is usually 7 weekdays after the procedure. Your primary nurse will arrange the time and place of your appointment.

You will receive a lot of information during the appointment. We recommend that you bring a family member or a good friend with you. It is also a good idea to write down any questions you might have ahead of time.