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Endometrial Biopsy

What is an endometrial biopsy?

An endometrial biopsy is a simple procedure for taking a sample of the lining of the uterus. It may be done to check for problems with the uterus.

The uterus is the organ at the top of the vagina. Babies develop in the uterus, and menstrual blood comes from the uterus. The lining of the uterus is called the endometrium.

When is it used?

Examples of reasons for doing this procedure are:

  • The uterus is bleeding too much, at the wrong times, or not at all.
  • You are having bleeding after menopause.
  • You are having trouble getting pregnant.
  • Your healthcare provider wants to check on the outcome of treatments you have had.

Examples of alternatives to this procedure are:

  • D&C (dilation and curettage), which is a procedure for opening the cervix and then scraping or suctioning tissue from the uterus
  • hysteroscopy (exam of the uterus using a thin telescope-like tube with a camera and a tool to remove part of the endometrium).

Another alternative is to choose not to have any procedure, recognizing the possible risks of your condition. You should ask your healthcare provider about these choices.

How do I prepare for an endometrial biopsy?

Follow instructions provided by your healthcare provider. Your provider may prescribe a mild pain pill to take an hour before the biopsy.

What happens during the procedure?

You don’t need an anesthetic for this test. The procedure can be done in your healthcare provider's office.

You will lie on your back on an exam table and put the heels of your feet in stirrup heel holders, just as you would for a pelvic exam. Your healthcare provider will place a speculum in your vagina. The speculum holds open the walls of the vagina so your provider can see the cervix (the opening of the uterus). Your provider will clean your cervix. Then he or she might need to gently stretch open the cervix with thin dilating sticks. Your provider will insert a tiny strawlike tube into your vagina and then into the uterus through the cervix. The tube will be used to remove a sample of the lining of the uterine wall. The sample will go to the lab for tests.

You may have mild cramps during the procedure.

What happens after the procedure?

You may leave in a few minutes after the procedure is done. You may have some cramping and bleeding after the procedure. Mild pain medicine should help relieve any discomfort.

Ask your healthcare provider when you can expect to hear the results of the biopsy. Also ask what steps you should take and when you should come back for a checkup.

What are the benefits of this procedure?

  • It is a simple office procedure that does not require any anesthesia.
  • Your healthcare provider may learn more about what is causing your symptoms. This will help your provider choose specific treatment for your problem.

What are the risks associated with this procedure?

  • The uterus may be injured or punctured by the tool used to get a sample.
  • You may have infection or bleeding.

You should ask your healthcare provider how these risks apply to you.

When should I call my healthcare provider?

Call your provider right away if:

  • You have a lot of bleeding from the uterus.
  • You have a fever over 100.5°F (38°C).
  • You have a lot of pain.

Call during office hours if:

  • You have questions about the procedure or its result.
  • You want to make another appointment.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-07-08
Last reviewed: 2011-05-01
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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