A tongue biopsy is surgery to remove a piece of the tongue to look at under a microscope.
Biopsy - tongue
How the test is performed
A tongue biopsy can be done using a needle.
- You will get numbing medicine at the place where the biopsy is to be done.
- The health care provider will gently stick 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. You will be asleep and pain-free so that a larger area may be removed and examined.
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
Your tongue is very sensitive so a needle biopsy may be uncomfortable even when numbing medicine is used.
Your tongue can be tender or sore, and it may feel slightly swollen after the biopsy. You may be stitches or an open sore where the biopsy was done.
Why the test is performed
The test is done to find the cause of abnormal growths or suspicious-looking areas of the tongue.
The tongue tissue is normal when examined.
What abnormal results mean
- Tongue (oral) cancer
- Viral ulcer
- Benign tumors
What the risks are
ReferencesEusterman VD. History and Physical Examination, Screening and Diagnostic Testing. Otolaryngol Clin North Am. Feb 2011;44(1):1-29.
Last reviewed 3/22/2013 by Ashutosh Kacker, MD, BS, Associate Professor of Otolaryngology, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Associate Attending Otolaryngologist, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
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