A biopsy involves the removal of a portion of body tissue so that it may be examined for disease and damage. The size of the tissue to be removed can range from a few cells to a full lump. A pathologist usually examines pieces of the samples under a microscope, though chemical analysis is also commonly used. Biopsy cost can largely vary based on the type of biopsy required and the location of the material to be removed. Extracting a small amount of cells through the use of a needle is appropriately coined needle aspiration biopsy. The procedure is known as an incisional biopsy If the amount of matter to be removed is too large for a needle but still relatively small, while the removal of a large amount of tissue is known as an excisional biopsy. The cost of a biopsy can range from as little as $150 for a small skin biopsy to over $10,000 for an advanced kidney biopsy. These prices are estimates for patients without insurance coverage, and they do not include other costs associated with having any medical procedure (like facility fees and prescription medicine).
What Is A Biopsy?
A biopsy is a medical procedure used to extract cells and/or tissues from various areas of the body so that they may be examined for signs of disease and/or damage. Some locations that are common targets for a biopsy are the skin, the liver, kidneys, and bone marrow. The three main types of biopsy approaches include the needle aspiration method, the incision biopsy, and the excisional type. Biopsy cost varies with the method used, though needle methods are usually cheapest (as low as $600) while large excisions can be the most expensive (as high as $10,000). The area of the body to be tested also influences the cost of a biopsy, with the liver tending to be less expensive than the kidneys, while the skin is commonly the cheapest location to be biopsied.
Kidney Biopsy Cost
A patient with blood or excessive waste products present in their urine may need a kidney biopsy to receive a diagnosis. The usual version of this procedure involves the patient lying face down under local anesthesia while the physician directs a needle through an incision and to the site of the biopsy. This process can be visually guided through several means, commonly including ultrasound wave imaging, a CT scan, or endoscope. Kidney biopsy cost can vary widely, from approximately $3,000 to $10,000.
Liver Biopsy Cost
A sample of the liver may need to be collected for the diagnosis of some conditions when initial approaches such as blood tests prove to be inefficient. The type of test affects the biopsy price. There are three main types of liver biopsy methods. The most common type of liver biopsy is called a percutaneous liver biopsy and is performed with the patient laying on their back with their right arm extended over their head. A small incision is made in the abdomen and an extraction needle is guided (by ultrasound, CT, endoscope, or some other means) into the liver. Transvenous liver biopsies are performed by inserting a tiny rubber tube (called a sheath) through a small incision in the neck and into the jugular vein. The sheath is fed down the jugular, and into one of the hepatic veins. A biopsy needle is then guided through the sheath and into the liver, where a sample is quickly taken. Sometimes several needles are needed for multiple samples. The third main method for extraction is the laparoscopic liver biopsy. During this procedure, the surgeon will make one tiny cut (or several tiny cuts, depending on the need) in the abdomen. An instrument known as a cannula us used to blow gas into the abdominal cavity, causing it to inflate and allowing the doctor more space to maneuver. The type of procedure plays a factor in determining liver biopsy cost, and the price may vary from $2,000 to $7,000. Liver biopsies are also used to test the effectiveness of certain medications used to treat hepatitis.
Thyroid Biopsy Cost
The thyroid is a gland found in the mid to lower neck. It is a large endocrine gland and has a prominent role in regulating many regulatory body processes (protein, calcium) and hormone sensitivity throughout the body. The thyroid is a common site for some sort of abnormality, the most common of which being thyroid nodules (lumps of mass that grow on the thyroid). While most nodules are harmless and quite normal (they increase with age), a lump of any type still holds the risk of being cancerous. When the tissues of the thyroid need to be tested directly, a thyroid biopsy is in order. The procedure may be performed with a fine needle requiring a minute incision or it may require a larger piece of tissue, leading to a larger incision area. The cost of a biopsy on the thyroid requiring excision can reach several thousand dollars. However, needle aspiration biopsy cost can be as low as $600.
Bone Marrow Biopsy Cost
Platelets (blood clotting agents) and both types of blood cells (red and white) are produced by the bone marrow. This vital tissue is found in the middle of bones, and a bone marrow biopsy is commonly employed to test for certain diseases (leukemia and anemia for example). A bone marrow biopsy is performed by placing a small incision on the chest or hip and inserting a needle into the bone through the incision to extract a sample. Prior to the incision being made, local anesthetic is used on the designated area. Unfortunately there is no way to numb the bone, so some temporary pain will be experienced (recovery is very quick, taking virtually no time at all). This is a biopsy of the needle aspiration type, so bone marrow biopsy cost is on the lower end of the scale, averaging around $360. Checking the bone marrow in this way is also used as a method to measure the response to certain medical treatments taken by a cancer (or other) patient.
Endometrial Biopsy Cost
An endometrial biopsy is a diagnostic and assessment procedure that may be performed if a female patient is at high risk for problems involving the lining of the uterus (such as fertility problems, cancer, and hyperplasia). The cost of a biopsy of this type is typically among the lower priced. It begins with a pelvic examination using a speculum to hold the region open for the inspection. After the cervix is sterilized, it is clamped with a tool called a tenaculum so that the cervix remains stable. A small metal or plastic tube is guided into the uterus, and takes a sample through simple suction of the endometrial layer. Endometrial biopsy cost is between $150 and $250 dollars, on average.
Skin Biopsy Cost
An abnormality on the skin (lesion) other than a mole will usually be closely examined after a biopsy is performed. There are a large number of types of skin biopsy techniques that vary mostly by the shape of the small incision. Two additional methods include the needle aspiration biopsy and the excision biopsy. The latter procedure removes the lesion in totality, while the former requires just a minute cut. The needle skin biopsy cost is the cheapest of these procedures, being as low as $150. The price may increase to as much as $1,000 depending on the type.
Mole Biopsy Cost
Strange moles that appear to change are often tested for melanoma and other conditions with a biopsy. The cost of a biopsy on a mole can vary based on the method used, but averages around $200. A portion of the mole may be taken by needle, by a tiny excision, or by complete removal of the mole. Removing the mole does not guarantee extermination of a potential problem, as the surrounding skin may be similarly affected and/or other moles may be present. Any sample will need to be examined under a microscope.