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Tongue biopsy

Definition

A tongue biopsy is surgery to remove a piece of the tongue for examination under a microscope.

Alternative Names

Biopsy - tongue

How the test is performed

A tongue biopsy can be done using a needle. After numbing the area, the health care provider gently sticks the needle into the tongue and removes a tiny piece of tissue.

Some types of tongue biopsies remove a thin slice of tissue. Others are done under general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free) so that larger areas may be removed and examined.

See also: Surgical excision

How to prepare for the test

You may be told not to eat or drink anything for several hours before the test.

How the test will feel

A needle biopsy is often somewhat uncomfortable even with use of an anesthetic, because the tongue is quite sensitive. After the biopsy, the tongue can be tender or sore, and it may feel slightly swollen. There may be stitches or an open sore where the biopsy was done.

Why the test is performed

The test is done to determine the cause of abnormal growths or suspicious-looking areas of the tongue.

Normal Values

There is normal tongue tissue, with no abnormal changes.

What abnormal results mean

What the risks are

Note: Complications are rare.

References

Robinson PN. Early diagnosis of oral cavity cancers. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. Apr 2006; 39(2): 295-306.

Noonan VL. Diagnosis and management of suspicious lesions of the oral cavity. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. Feb 2005; 38(1): 21-35, vii.


Review Date: 3/5/2011
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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