Biopsy in Kenya: An Overview of Uses, Types, and Procedures

In the field of medicine, a biopsy plays a vital role in diagnosing various medical conditions. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of biopsies in Kenya, covering their uses, types, and procedures involved. Whether you’re a member of the general population seeking information or a primary care clinician looking to enhance your knowledge, understanding biopsies can help you make informed decisions and provide better patient care.

What is a Biopsy?

A biopsy is a medical procedure performed to collect tissue or cell samples from the body for microscopic examination. It is used to diagnose and monitor various conditions, including cancer, infections, inflammatory diseases, and autoimmune disorders.

Importance of Biopsies

Biopsies are essential as they provide crucial information for accurate diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment planning. They help identify the presence of abnormal cells, determine the stage and grade of cancers, evaluate treatment effectiveness, and guide personalized therapies.

Types of Biopsies

Needle Biopsy

Needle biopsies are minimally invasive procedures that involve using a thin needle to extract tissue or fluid samples from the affected area. This type of biopsy includes:

  • Fine Needle Aspiration (FNA) Biopsy: Used for extracting cells from palpable lumps or masses.
  • Core Needle Biopsy: Involves removing a small cylinder of tissue using a larger needle.
  • Vacuum-Assisted Biopsy: Utilizes suction to collect multiple tissue samples through a single needle insertion.

Surgical Biopsy

Surgical biopsies are more invasive procedures that involve the removal of an entire lump, suspicious area, or lymph node. Common surgical biopsy techniques include:

  • Incisional Biopsy: Removes a small portion of the tumor or lesion for examination.
  • Excisional Biopsy: Involves removing the entire tumor or lesion.
  • Sentinel Lymph Node Biopsy: Used to determine if cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes.

Biopsy Procedures in Kenya: Preparing for a Biopsy

Before a biopsy, your healthcare provider will explain the procedure, discuss any associated risks, and address your concerns. They may also give specific instructions regarding fasting, medication usage, or necessary laboratory tests.

Commonly done Biopsies

Some of the commonest parts and organs include:-

  • Skin
  • Breast
  • Lymph nodes
  • Liver
  • Kidneys
  • Bone marrow

Biopsy Modalities

For some biopsies especially for easily accessible oranges like skin and thyroid and lymph nodes, palpation-guided biopsy usually suffices. For most internal organs, however, the help of imaging eg ultrasound, or CT scan is essential. For some hollow organs like the stomach or colon, endoscopy helps visualize the diseased areas and pinpoint areas where to take the biopsy

The Biopsy Procedure

During the biopsy, you will be positioned appropriately, and the area to be biopsied will be sterilized. The specific procedure will depend on the type of biopsy being performed. For needle biopsies, local anesthesia is typically used, whereas surgical biopsies may require general or regional anesthesia.

Patient undergoing Biopsy of thyroid

After the Biopsy: Post-Biopsy Care

After the procedure, you will receive instructions on caring for the biopsy site, managing any discomfort, and potential signs of complications. It’s important to keep the biopsy site dry for at least 24 hours. It’s important to follow these guidelines and promptly report any concerning symptoms to your healthcare provider.

Biopsy Results and Follow-Up

The collected tissue samples will be sent to a laboratory for analysis. The results are typically available within a few days to a couple of weeks. Your healthcare provider will discuss the findings with you and develop an appropriate treatment plan or recommend further diagnostic tests if necessary.


Biopsies are valuable diagnostic tools used in Kenya to assess various medical conditions. They provide crucial information for accurate diagnosis and help guide treatment decisions.

Whether you are a member of the general population seeking information or a primary care clinician looking to enhance your knowledge, understanding the uses, types, and procedures involved in biopsies is essential in providing the best care possible.

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