top of page

BackTable / VI / Topic / Procedure

Lung Biopsy Procedure

Lung Biopsy Procedure

Learn more on the BackTable VI Podcast

BackTable is a knowledge resource for physicians by physicians. Get practical advice on Lung Biopsy and how to build your practice by listening to the BackTable VI Podcast, reading exclusing BackTable Articles, and following the work of our Contributors.

Ep 278 Minimizing Complications for Lung Biopsies with Dr. Robert Suh
00:00 / 01:04
BackTable CMEfy button

Stay Up To Date



Sign Up:

Lung Biopsy Pre-Procedure Prep

Lung Biopsy Indications

• Diagnosis for indeterminate lung lesions
• Diagnosis for suspected primary bronchogenic tumor
• Diagnosis and evaluation of suspected/known metastatic disease such as molecular and genetic markers
• Evaluation of chronic infectious diseases


• No absolute contraindications
• Severe emphysema or poor lung capacity as patients may not tolerate or heal from pneumothorax
• Bleeding diathesis (Platelets < 50,000/mm³ and INR > 1.5)
• On positive pressure ventilation
• Potential hydatid cyst

Pre-Procedural Evaluation

• H&P: specifically prior bronchoscopy or failed percutaneous biopsy in past
• Understand lung biopsy indication: simple diagnosis vs molecular markers/genetic testing
• Core biopsy needed for molecular diagnosis
• Labs: platelets and INR
Review prior imaging:
• Review all imaging to evaluate for safest lesion to biopsy (potentially may be outside of lung)
• Location and size of lesion
• Plan approach
• Degree of underlying lung disease

Lung Biopsy Podcasts

Listen to leading physicians discuss lung biopsy on the BackTable VI Podcast. Get tips, tricks, and expert guidance from your peers and level up your practice.

Episode #278


In this episode, host Dr. Chris Beck interviews chest and interventional radiologist Dr. Robert Suh about his lung biopsy technique, including how he approaches pain management, and his take on the best way to seal the biopsy tract to prevent air leaks.

BackTable CMEfy button

Episode #157


In Part II of our Lung Biopsy Series Dr. Fred Lee and Dr. Christopher Beck discuss Pleural and Parenchymal Blood Patching to prevent Pneumothorax, including results of the recent JVIR article from Sept 2021.

BackTable CMEfy button

Episode #156


We start off Part 1 of a 2 part series with Dr. Fred Lee discussing Percutaneous Lung Biopsy Technique, with tips and tricks to help your daily practice.

BackTable CMEfy button

Lung Biopsy Procedure Steps


• No routine prophylaxis recommended
• Exception: endocarditis prophylaxis for patients with prosthetic valves, a history of infective endocarditis, congenital heart disease repaired with foreign material, or cardiac transplant with valvulopathy
• 1 g cefazolin (Ancef) IV or 2 g amoxicillin PO/IV
• 600 mg Clindamycin IV for PCN allergy


• Typically CT guidance
• Pleural based lesions can be targeted with US
• Some lesions can be targeted with combination of fluoro and cone-beam CT


• Lidocaine only vs moderate sedation
• Consider exclusively local anesthetic with lesions near the lung bases. Breath-hold maneuvers can help target a "mobile" lesion

Core vs. Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA)

• Diagnostic yield may be increased by using both
• FNA for cytology and flow cytometry; 20-25 g needle
• Core for histology, molecular markers, genetic testing; 14-20 g biopsy device

Lung Biopsy Patient Position

• Typically, position based on location of lesion
• Prone has some advantages: supine recovery may facilitate pleural apposition, wider intercostal space posteriorly, posterior ribs less mobile than anterior ribs

Plan Trajectory

• Do not cross fissure (one of strongest risk factors for pneumothorax)
• Needle entry perpendicular to pleura reduces risk of pneumothorax
• Shortest distance from pleura to target reduces risk of pneumothorax
• Above considerations must be weighed with choosing a trajectory that maximizes chance lesion can be targeted effectively, particularly with small lung lesions

CT Guidance Discus

• Administer anesthetic - evaluate trajectory and potential movement of lesion
• Advance 17 or 19 g trocar to edge of pleura and re-evaluate trajectory
• Advance needle into lung and then into lesion
• Remove trocar needle and obtain FNA and/or core samples
• Administer autologous blood patch as needle is withdrawn
• Sterile dressing to site. Some operators prefer vaseline gauze

Blood Patch

• Reduces rate of pneumothorax and thoracostomy tube
• Remove 8-10 ml of patient's blood
• Use two 10 mL syringes connected to stopcock to fragment clots
• Administer blood along biopsy track as needle is withdrawn across pleural surface

Lung Biopsy Articles

Read our exclusive BackTable VI Articles for quick insights on lung biopsy, provided by physicians for physicians.

Lung Biopsy Procedure Prep: Patient Communication, Medications & Device Selection

The key to a successful needle lung biopsy procedure is proper preparation. Interventional radiologist Dr. Robert Suh shares his approach to patient prep for lung biopsy, including pain control.

BioSentry Plug vs Blood Patching: Preventing Pneumothorax After Lung Biopsy

Pneumothorax is a common complication during a lung biopsy procedure. Dr. Robert Suh describes two distinct methods, BioSentry plug and blood patching, to manage this complication, and considerations for each approach.

Pleural blood patch after CT guided lung biopsy

Blood patching began to emerge in the early 2000’s as a technique to reduce the incidence of chest tube placements subsequent to pneumothoraces, and has since been adopted in lung biopsy procedures. Blood patching is a technique in which the operator introduces the patient's own blood into the pulmonary space to promote coagulation of air passages created upon biopsy.


Lung Biopsy Complications (with Core Biopsy)

• Pneumothorax: 25%
• Pneumothorax (PTX) necessitating intervention: 6%
• Pulmonary hemorrhage: 18%
• Hemoptysis: 4%
• Track seeding: < 1%
• Air embolism and death (rare)

Post-Procedural Care

Assuming no pneumothorax
• Bedrest at least 2 hours following biopsy
• Chest X-ray (CXR) 2 hours post biopsy
• If no PTX, ok for discharge
• If small and asymptomatic PTX, place patient on oxygen and repeat CXR in 1 hour to assess stability
• If large and/or symptomatic PTX, likely will need chest tube

Assuming small asymptomatic PTX
• Supplemental oxygen
• Place biopsy site down to improve pleural apposition
• CXR 2 hours post biopsy
• Reassess patient with and without supplemental oxygen
• If PTX stable or decreasing in size, discharge
• If PTX increasing or symptoms worsening, chest tube

Lung Biopsy Recovery

• Important patient be sent home with instruction on potential symptoms for delayed pneumothorax
• Restricted to light activity for 24 hours


[1] Heerink WJ, de Bock GH, de Jonge GJ, Groen HJ, Vliegenthart R, Oudkerk M. Complication rates of CT-guided transthoracic lung biopsy: meta-analysis. Eur Radiol. 2017;27(1):138‐148. doi:10.1007/s00330-016-4357-8
[2] Graffy P, Loomis SB, Pickhardt PJ, et al. Pulmonary Intraparenchymal Blood Patching Decreases the Rate of Pneumothorax-Related Complications following Percutaneous CT-Guided Needle Biopsy. J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2017;28(4):608‐613.e1. doi:10.1016/j.jvir.2016.12.1217
[3] Kim JI, Park CM, Lee SM, Goo JM. Rapid needle-out patient-rollover approach after cone beam CT-guided lung biopsy: effect on pneumothorax rate in 1,191 consecutive patients. Eur Radiol. 2015;25(7):1845‐1853. doi:10.1007/s00330-015-3601-y
[4] Malone LJ, Stanfill RM, Wang H, Fahey KM, Bertino RE. Effect of intraparenchymal blood patch on rates of pneumothorax and pneumothorax requiring chest tube placement after percutaneous lung biopsy. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2013;200(6):1238‐1243. doi:10.2214/AJR.12.8980
[5] Winokur RS, Pua BB, Sullivan BW, Madoff DC. Percutaneous lung biopsy: technique, efficacy, and complications. Semin Intervent Radiol. 2013;30(2):121-127. doi:10.1055/s-0033-1342952
[6] O'Neill AC, McCarthy C, Ridge CA, et al. Rapid needle-out patient-rollover time after percutaneous CT-guided transthoracic biopsy of lung nodules: effect on pneumothorax rate. Radiology. 2012;262(1):314‐319. doi:10.1148/radiol.11103506
[7] Hiraki T, Mimura H, Gobara H, et al. Incidence of and risk factors for pneumothorax and chest tube placement after CT fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous lung biopsy: retrospective analysis of the procedures conducted over a 9-year period. AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2010;194(3):809‐814. doi:10.2214/AJR.09.3224

Disclaimer: The Materials available on are for informational and educational purposes only and are not a substitute for the professional judgment of a healthcare professional in diagnosing and treating patients. The opinions expressed by participants of the BackTable Podcast belong solely to the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of BackTable.



Minimizing Complications for Lung Biopsies with Dr. Robert Suh on the BackTable VI Podcast)
Percutaneous Lung Biopsies: Pleural & Parenchymal Blood Patching with Dr. Fred Lee on the BackTable VI Podcast)
Percutaneous Lung Biopsies: The Basics with Dr. Fred Lee on the BackTable VI Podcast)
Iliofemoral Stenting: Decision-Making & Best Practices Explored with Dr. Kush Desai and Dr. Steven Abramowitz on the BackTable VI Podcast)


Lung Biopsy Procedure Prep: Patient Communication, Medications & Device Selection

Lung Biopsy Procedure: Patient Communication, Medications & Device Selection

BioSentry Plug vs Blood Patching: Preventing Pneumothorax After Lung Biopsy

BioSentry Plug vs Blood Patching: Preventing Pneumothorax After Lung Biopsy

Pleural blood patch after CT guided lung biopsy

Pleural & Parenchymal Blood Patching Techniques in Lung Biopsy


Related Topics

bottom of page