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Home > Centers of Excellence > General & Vascular Rectal  Biopsy

What is Rectal Biopsy?

A rectal biopsy involves removing a small piece of rectal (anal) tissue and using it for diagnostic examination.

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Effects of Rectal Biopsy

One of the uses of rectal biopsy is to determine the cause of abnormal growths found on anoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, or other tests. Also, the procedure can be used to confirm the diagnosis of amyloidosis.

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Candidates for Rectal Biopsy


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Your Consultation

You will be asked to defecate prior to the procedure.  A laxative, enema or other preparation may be administered for your use.

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The Rectal Biopsy Procedure 

Initially, a digital rectal examination is done. The doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to verify if anything will block the insertion of the anoscope. After that, a lubricated anoscope (or sometimes a rectal speculum or proctoscope) is then inserted, which will induce some pressure.

A biopsy can be achieved through any of these scopes. The scope is a short tube with a light connected with it; it amplifies the rectum to permit the doctor to look at the entire anal canal. Anesthetic is admitted through the anoscope, then biopsy forceps, a cytology brush, culture swab, or suction catheter is introduced through the anoscope to obtain a sample. Next, the scope is slowly removed.

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The doctor will be able to inform the patient whether the results are normal or abnormal as soon as the procedure is over. The patient can then resume normal activities.

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The risks of bleeding, pain and perforation may be possible. It is also possible that some patients may have problems with urinary retention after rectal biopsy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How will the test feel?

A: You may experience a little bit of pressure during the procedure and may even feel an urge to defecate. A fair amount of cramping may occur as the anoscope is inserted, but there should be minor pain.

Q: What is the purpose of a rectal biopsy?

A: A rectal biopsy is performed to detect the cause of abnormal growths found on anoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or other tests. Additionally, it can be used to confirm the diagnosis of amyloidosis.

Q: What are the normal values in rectal biopsy results?

A: The anus and rectum would look normal in color, size and shape. No evidence of bleeding, polyps, hemorrhoids, or other abnormalities must be present. On microscopic examination of biopsy tissue, no abnormalities should be seen.

Q: What do abnormal results mean?

A: This test is one of the more customary alternatives to confirm amyloidosis. It also rules out the particular causes of abnormal conditions of the rectum, such as colitis. Other findings could include colorectal polyps, abscesses, inflammation, infection, hemorrhoids or tumors.

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