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Thoracic Needle Biopsy

A thoracic needle biopsy is a procedure used to biopsy lung nodules and masses. The physician sterilizes the skin in the area of interest and anesthetizes this area with a local anesthetic agent. A "fine" needle is inserted through the skin and the soft tissue between the ribs. Next, the needle is guided by fluoroscopy (motion picture x-rays) or CT scan towards the region of abnormality and biopsies are taken. The most common complication of this procedure is pneumothorax, which occurs between 15 and 30% of the time. Small pneumothoraces or pneumothoraces not associated with symptoms may be observed with chest x-rays every few hours. Larger or symptomatic pneumothoraces may require insertion of a small caliber chest tube.