Nasal Mucosal Biopsy

Definition

A nasal mucosal biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue from the lining of the nose so that it can be checked for disease.

Alternative Names

Biopsy - nasal mucosa; Nose biopsy

How the Test is Performed

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

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is needed. You may be asked to fast for a few hours before the biopsy.

How the Test will Feel

You may feel pressure or tugging when the tissue is removed. After the numbness wears off, the area may be sore for a few days.

A small to moderate amount of bleeding after the procedure is common. If there is bleeding, the blood vessels may be sealed with an electric current, laser, or chemical.

Why the Test is Performed

Nasal mucosal biopsy is usually done when abnormal tissue is seen during examination of the nose. It may also be done when the health care provider suspects you have a problem affecting the mucosal tissue of the nose.

Normal Results

The tissue in the nose is normal.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

  • Cancer
  • Infections, such as tuberculosis
  • Necrotizing granuloma, a type of tumor
  • Nasal polyps
  • Nasal tumors
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Wegener's disease (Wegener's granulomatosis)

Risks

  • Bleeding from the biopsy site
  • Infection

Considerations

Avoid blowing your nose after the biopsy. Do not pick your nose or put your fingers over the area. Gently squeeze the nostrils shut if there is bleeding, holding pressure for 10 minutes. If the bleeding doesn't stop after 30 minutes, you may need to come in to see your doctor. The blood vessels may be sealed with an electric current or packing.

References

Jackson RS, McCaffrey TV. Nasal manifestations of systemic disease. In: Flint PW, Haughey BH, Lund LJ, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2015:chap 12.

Posner MR. Head and neck cancer. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 196.

Review Date: 4/11/2015

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