Oropharynx lesion biopsy

Alternative names
Throat lesion biopsy; Biopsy - mouth or throat; Mouth lesion biopsy

An oropharynx lesion biopsy is a diagnostic procedure in which tissue from an abnormal growth or lesion (such as a mouth sore) is removed for analysis.

How the test is performed
A local or topical anesthetic is usually used (for large lesions or lesions of the throat, a general anesthetic may be needed). The entire lesion, or a small portion of larger lesions, is removed and sent to the laboratory for analysis. If a growth is present in the mouth or throat, this test may be part of tumor removal/resection.

How to prepare for the test
If a local or topical anesthetic is to be used, there is no special preparation. If the test is to be part of a tumor removal or if general anesthetic is to be used, fasting for 6 to 8 hours may be necessary.

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
After the anesthetic wears off, the area may be tender or sore for a few days.

Why the test is performed
This test is performed to determine the specific cause of a lesion in the mouth.

Normal Values
This test is only performed when there is an abnormal lesion (abnormal tissue area).

What abnormal results mean

  • histoplasmosis  
  • fungal infections (such as Candida)  
  • viral infections (such as Herpes simplex)  
  • cancer of the oropharynx (such as squamous cell carcinoma)  
  • Precancerous lesion (leukoplakia)

Oral lichen planus is an additional condition under which the test may be performed.

What the risks are

  • infection of the site  
  • bleeding from the site

Special considerations

Avoid hot or spicy food after the biopsy.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Janet G. Derge, M.D.

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