Endometrial Biopsy

What is the test?

In general, doctors take biopsies of areas that look abnormal and use them to detect cancer, precancerous cells, infections, and other conditions. Endometrial biopsy takes a tissue sample from the lining of your uterus (the endometrium) to evaluate it for problems, including endometrial cancer that might explain unusual bleeding.

How do I prepare for the test?

You will need to take an NSAID, or medicine such as ibuprofen 400mg, one to two hours before the test, to reduce the possibility of uterine cramps during the procedure.

You will be asked to give a urine specimen before your procedure. It is best to avoid tampon use and avoid using vaginal creams during the day leading up to the procedure.

What happens when the test is performed?

This test is performed in the office. After cleaning your vagina and cervix (the entrance to the uterus, visible from your vagina) with antibacterial soap, your doctor may inject a local anesthetic to numb your cervix. In most cases the doctor will put a clamp on your cervix to hold it steady. If your biopsy is being done with the most commonly used method, the doctor will use a flexible, sterile plastic instrument called a Pipelle, which looks like a drinking straw. The doctor inserts the Pipelle through the opening in your cervix and positions it several inches into the uterus. Then the doctor pulls a thin wire out of the center of the Pipelle. As the rod is pulled out, the Pipelle becomes hollow and creates suction, drawing some of the cells from the lining of your uterus into the Pipelle. To get a good sample, the doctor will then move the Pipelle forward and backward a few times before removing it. The entire procedure takes about 10 minutes. There are several variations in the way a doctor can do this procedure. Some doctors will use a scraping instrument (“curette”) in place of a Pipelle.

What risks are there from the test?

You might have pelvic cramps (sometimes intense) during the procedure and sometimes for a day or two afterward; you may also experience a small amount of vaginal bleeding. It is extremely rare to have heavy bleeding or to develop an infection that needs treatment. This test could end a very early pregnancy. Your doctor might order a pregnancy test before performing the biopsy.

Must I do anything special after the test is over?

Call your doctor if you develop a fever of over 100 degrees F, or if you have vaginal bleeding that lasts longer than two to three days after any bleeding has stopped.

How long is it before the result of the test is known?

It may take up to a week for the doctor to know results from this biopsy test.