What is Adrenal Biopsy?
Written by Kimberly Vaughn, MD   
Sunday, 04 October 2009
There are two adrenal glands in the body, one on top of each kidney. These glands produce a variety of hormones that affect almost all of the body's functions. An adrenal biopsy involves taking a sample of tissue, usually from only one adrenal gland.
Who is a candidate for the procedure?

An adrenal biopsy may be done when an abnormal growth or mass is seen in one, or rarely both, of the adrenal glands. This growth or mass may be a tumor or just an infection. The adrenal glands can usually be seen only during special X-ray tests, such as an abdominal CT scan.
How is the procedure performed?

There are two ways to do an adrenal biopsy. With the first method, a doctor inserts a needle through the skin of the back into the adrenal gland, while he or she looks at live images from a CT scan or other X-ray. Local anesthesia is used to prevent the person from feeling pain. A medicine to relax the person may also be given if needed. Once a tissue sample has been obtained, the needle is removed, and a bandage is placed over the puncture site.

An adrenal biopsy may also be done using surgery, under general anesthesia. A cut is made into the back or abdomen, and the surgeon looks at the gland directly. A piece of the gland can then be removed and sent to the lab. The lab often analyzes the piece of tissue while the person is still asleep. If the tissue turns out to be cancer, surgery can then be done right away to avoid a second operation in the future.