Endometrial biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue from the lining of the uterus (endometrium) for examination.
Biopsy - endometrium
How the Test is Performed
This procedure may be done with or without anesthesia. This is a medicine that allows you to sleep during the procedure.
- You lie on your back with your feet supported by a footrest.
- Your health care provider gently inserts an instrument (speculum) into the vagina to hold it open so that your cervix can be viewed. The cervix is cleaned with a special liquid. Numbing medicine may be applied to the cervix.
- The cervix may then be gently grasped with an instrument to hold the uterus steady. Another instrument may be needed to gently stretch the cervical opening if there is tightness.
- An instrument is gently passed through the cervix into the uterus to collect the tissue sample.
- The tissue sample and instruments are removed.
- The tissue is sent to a lab. There, it is examined under a microscope.
- If you had anesthesia for the procedure, you are taken to a recovery area. Nurses will make sure you are comfortable. After you wake up and have no problems from the anesthesia and procedure, you are allowed to go home.
How to Prepare for the Test
Before the test:
Tell your provider about all the medicines you take. These include blood thinners such as warfarin, clopidogrel, and aspirin.
- You may be asked to have a test to check if you are pregnant.
- In the 2 days before the procedure, do not use creams or other medicines in the vagina.
- Do NOT douche. (You should never douche. Douching can cause infection of the vagina or uterus.)
- Ask your provider if you should take pain medicine, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, just before the procedure.
How the Test will Feel
The instruments may feel cold. You may feel some pain when the cervix is grasped. You may have some cramping as the instruments enter the uterus and the sample is collected.
Why the Test is Performed
The test is done to find the cause of:
- Abnormal menstrual periods (heavy, prolonged, or irregular bleeding)
- Bleeding after menopause
- Bleeding from taking hormone therapy medicines
- Thickened uterine lining seen on ultrasound
- Endometrial cancer
The biopsy is normal if the cells in the sample are not abnormal.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Abnormal menstrual periods may be caused by:
- Uterine fibroids
- Fingerlike growths in the uterus (uterine polyps)
- Hormone imbalance
- Endometrial cancer or precancer (hyperplasia)
Other conditions under which the test may be performed:
- Abnormal bleeding if a woman is taking the breast cancer medicine tamoxifen
- Abnormal bleeding due to changes in hormone levels (anovulatory bleeding)
Risks of endometrial biopsy include:
- Causing a hole in (perforating) the uterus or tearing the cervix (rarely occurs)
- Prolonged bleeding
- Slight spotting and mild cramping for a few days
Choby BA. Endometrial biopsy. In: Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC, eds. Pfenninger & Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010:chap 143.
Lentz GM. Endoscopy: hysteroscopy and laparoscopy: indications, contraindications and complications. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 10.
Reviewed By:Daniel N. Sacks MD, FACOG, obstetrics & gynecology in private practice, West Palm Beach, FL. Review Provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency
or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional
should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911
for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they
do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997-A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (Agency) and this website do not claim the information on, or referred to by, this site is error free. This site may include links to websites of other government agencies or private groups. Our Agency and this website do not control such sites and are not responsible for their content. Reference to or links to any other group, product, service, or information does not mean our Agency or this website approves of that group, product, service, or information.
Additionally, while health information provided through this website may be a valuable resource for the public, it is not designed to offer medical advice. Talk with your doctor about medical care questions you may have.