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Endometrial Biopsy

What Is an Endometrial Biopsy?

An endometrial biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue from the endometrium (the lining of the uterus). This tissue sample can show cell changes due to abnormal tissues or variations in hormone levels.

Taking a small sample of endometrial tissue helps your doctor diagnose certain medical conditions. A biopsy can also check for uterine infections such as endometritis.

An endometrial biopsy can be performed in the doctor’s office without the use of anesthesia. Typically, it takes about 10 minutes to complete.

Why Is an Endometrial Biopsy Performed?

An endometrial biopsy may be performed to help diagnose abnormalities of the uterus. It can also rule out other diseases.

Your doctor may want to perform an endometrial biopsy to:

  • find the cause of postmenopausal bleeding or abnormal uterine bleeding
  • screen for endometrial cancer
  • evaluate fertility
  • test your response to hormone therapy

You can’t get an endometrial biopsy during pregnancy and shouldn’t if you have any of the following conditions:

  • a blood-clotting disorder
  • acute pelvic inflammatory disease
  • acute cervical or vaginal infection
  • cervical cancer
  • cervical stenosis (severe narrowing of the cervix)

How Do I Prepare for an Endometrial Biopsy?

Endometrial biopsy during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage. Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or if there’s a chance you may be. Your doctor might want you to take a pregnancy test before the biopsy to ensure you aren’t pregnant.

Your doctor may also want you to keep a record of your menstrual cycles before the biopsy. This is usually requested if the test needs to be done at a particular time during your cycle.

Tell your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking. You might have to stop taking blood-thinning medications before an endometrial biopsy. These medications can interfere with the blood’s ability to clot properly. Your doctor will probably want to know whether you have any bleeding disorders or you’re allergic to latex or iodine.

An endometrial biopsy can be slightly uncomfortable. You may want to take ibuprofen or another pain reliever an hour or two before the procedure. Your doctor may give you a light sedative before the biopsy. The sedative may make you drowsy, so you shouldn’t drive until the effects have fully worn off. You may want to ask a friend or family member to drive you home after the procedure.

What Happens During an Endometrial Biopsy?

Before the biopsy, you’ll robe or medical gown in an exam room. You’ll lay on a table with your feet in stirrups. Your doctor will do a quick pelvic exam. They’ll also clean your vagina and cervix. Your doctor may put a clamp on your cervix to keep it steady during the procedure. You might feel pressure or slight discomfort from the clamp.

Your doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube called a pipelle through the opening of your cervix. The pipelle will extend several inches into the uterus. Then they’ll pull a thin wire out of the center of the pipelle to create suction. They’ll move the pipelle back and forth to get a tissue sample from the lining of the uterus. The entire procedure typically takes about 10 minutes.

The sample of tissue is put in fluid and sent to the laboratory for analysis. Your doctor should have the results approximately 7 to 10 days after the biopsy.

You may experience some light spotting or bleeding after the procedure. Your doctor will give you a sanitary pad to wear. Mild cramping is also normal. You may be able to take a pain reliever to help with cramping, but be sure to ask your doctor.

Don’t use tampons or have sexual intercourse for several days after an endometrial biopsy. Depending on your past medical history, your doctor might provide you with additional instructions after the procedure.

What Are the Risks Associated with an Endometrial Biopsy?

Like other invasive procedures, there’s a small risk of infection. There’s also a risk of puncturing the uterine wall, but this is very rare.

Some bleeding and discomfort is normal. Call your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • bleeding for more than two days after the biopsy
  • heavy bleeding
  • fever or chills
  • severe pain in the lower abdomen
  • abnormal or foul-smelling vaginal discharge

What Do the Results Mean?

An endometrial biopsy is normal when no abnormal cells or cancer is found. Results are considered abnormal when:

  • a benign (noncancerous) growth is present
  • endometrial hyperplasia (thickening of the endometrium) is present
  • cancerous cells are present 

You can find more information and additional resources about endometrial cancer at www.healthline.com/health/endometrial-cancer.


Content licensed from:

Written by: Jaime Herndon
Published on: Aug 15, 2012
Medically reviewed on: May 02, 2017: Michael Weber, MD

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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