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Heart Biopsy

Heart Institute at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

A heart biopsy is a test to see if there are any abnormalities in the muscle tissue of the heart. A biopsy may be ordered if the doctor wants to check for weaknesses or changes in the heart muscle structure, weak heart pumping, other heart function problems, or to check for rejection after a heart transplant.

The heart biopsy is done during a heart catheterization or “heart cath.” The heart cath is a minimally invasive procedure which allows the doctor to look at and get information about the heart from the inside using special catheters and a type of x-ray called fluoroscopy (floor-OS-co-pee). The doctor uses very thin, flexible tubes called “catheters” placed in the neck vein, or sometimes the leg vein, to get information about the heart. The catheter will be inserted into these large blood vessels in the same way an intravenous (IV) line is placed. The catheter is gently pushed through the blood vessels and into the heart using fluoroscopy to guide the placement of the catheter.

Once the catheter is in position inside the heart, the doctor will insert a smaller catheter through it. This smaller catheter has a set of tiny tweezers on the end of it. The tweezers will take a tiny sample of heart tissue that will be pulled back through the catheter.

Getting this small amount of tissue for testing is what is known as a biopsy (BY-op-see). The tissue sample will be sent to the lab to be processed. Results from the biopsy will be available by the next day.

View the patient procedure sheet about Heart Biopsy at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Last Update
August 21, 2012
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Last Update
August 21, 2012