Nasal mucosal biopsy

Alternative names
Biopsy - nasal mucosa; Nose biopsy

A nasal mucosal biopsy is a diagnostic procedure in which a small piece of tissue is removed from the mucosal lining of the nose.

How the test is performed
A topical anesthetic is sprayed into the nose (in some cases injection of local anesthesia may be required). A small piece of the tissue that appears abnormal is removed and sent to the laboratory for analysis.

How to prepare for the test
No special preparation is necessary, although fasting for a few hours may be advisable.

Infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child’s age, interests, previous experiences, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child’s age:

  • infant test or procedure preparation (birth to 1 year)  
  • toddler test or procedure preparation (1 to 3 years)  
  • preschooler test or procedure preparation (3 to 6 years)  
  • schoolage test or procedure preparation (6 to 12 years)  
  • adolescent test or procedure preparation (12 to 18 years)

How the test will feel
There may be some pressure or tugging sensations during removal of the specimen. After the anesthetic wears off, the area may be sore for a few days.

Why the test is performed
Nasal mucosal biopsy is most often performed when abnormal tissue is observed during examination of the nose or when disorders affecting the nasal mucosal tissue are suspected.

Normal Values
There is normal mucosal tissue, with no abnormal growths or tissues.

What abnormal results mean

  • necrotizing granuloma (granular tumor)  
  • Wegener’s disease  
  • Nasal polyps  
  • nasal tumors (benign or malignant)  
  • sarcoid  
  • infections (tuberculosis, fungal)

What the risks are

  • infection  
  • bleeding from the biopsy site

Special considerations

Avoid blowing your nose after the biopsy.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 6, 2012
by Dave R. Roger, M.D.

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