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Upper Airway Biopsy

Definition

Upper airway biopsy is surgery in which a small piece of tissue is removed from the upper airway (nose, mouth, throat) for examination.

Alternative Names

Biopsy - upper airway

How the test is performed

The health care provider will spray a numbing medicine in your mouth and throat. A metal tube is inserted to hold your tongue out of the way.

Another numbing medicine is injected through the tube down the back of the throat. This may cause you to cough at first. When the area feels thick or swollen, it is numb.

The abnormal area is viewed, and a small piece of tissue is removed. It is sent to the laboratory for examination.

How to prepare for the test

Do not eat for 6 - 12 hours before the test. You must sign an informed consent form.

How the test will feel

As the area is being numbed, you may feel like there is fluid running down the back of your throat. You may feel the need to cough or gag. And you may feel pressure or mild tugging.

When the numbness wears off, your throat may feel scratchy for several days. After the test, the cough reflex will return in 1 - 2 hours. Then you may eat and drink normally.

Why the test is performed

This test may be may be done when your doctor thinks there may be a problem or defect. It may also be done as part of a bronchoscopy when defects are in the upper airway as well as the lung tissue.

Normal Values

There are normal upper airway tissues, with no abnormal growths.

What abnormal results mean

Disorders or conditions that may be discovered include:

  • Cancer
  • Granulomas (may be caused by tuberculosis)
  • Granulomatous inflammation (may be caused by tuberculosis)
  • Necrotizing vasculitis

What the risks are

  • Bleeding (some bleeding is common, excessive bleeding is not)
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Sore throat

There is a risk of choking if you swallow water or food before the numbness wears off.

Review Date: 10/10/2008

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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.