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Tongue Biopsy

Tongue Biopsy

Alternate Names

  • biopsy of the tongue

Definition

In a tongue biopsy, a small piece of tissue is taken from the tongue for study in the laboratory.

Who is a candidate for the test?

This test is done to help diagnose disorders of the tongue. These include cancer and other unusual lesions or abnormal growths.

How is the test performed?

A tongue biopsy may be done in a doctor's office or in the hospital. The area of the tongue to be biopsied is cleaned and injected with a local anesthetic. When the area is numb, the biopsy sample may be removed by a small needle or by cutting a small piece of the tongue. The sample is then sent to the laboratory to be studied.
Like any minor surgery, a tongue biopsy can be followed by bleeding, infection, or swelling. These are uncommon and can be treated relatively easily.

What is involved in preparation for the test?

A person should request specific instructions from his or her healthcare professional. Generally, no preparation is required.

What do the test results mean?

Normal tongue tissue appears healthy and has no disease present within it. Abnormal results may indicate a cancer of the tongue, or other diseases.

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