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Gum Biopsy

Definition

A gum biopsy is a surgery in which a small piece of gingival (gum) tissue is removed for examination.

Alternative Names

Biopsy - gingiva (gums)

How the test is performed

A painkiller is sprayed into the mouth in the area of the abnormal gum tissue. In some cases, a numbing injection may be used. A small piece of the gum tissue that appears abnormal is removed and checked for problems in the laboratory.

How to prepare for the test

There is no special preparation, although you may be told not to eat for a few hours before the biopsy.

How the test will feel

The topical anesthetic should numb the area during the procedure, although some tugging or pressure may be felt. If there is bleeding, the blood vessels may be sealed off with an electric current or laser. This is called electrocauterization. After the numbness wears off, the area may be sore for a few days.

Why the test is performed

This test is done to determine the cause of abnormal gum tissue.

Normal Values

This test is only performed when there is an abnormality.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What abnormal results mean

  • Amyloid
  • Noncancerous mouth sores (the specific cause can be determined in many cases)
  • Oral cancer (for example, squamous cell carcinoma)
  • Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP)

What the risks are

  • Bleeding from the biopsy site
  • Infection of the gums
  • Soreness

Special considerations

Avoid brushing the biopsy area for 1 week.

Review Date: 3/3/2009

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Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Medical Center. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.