Information About The Open Lung Biopsy in Interstitial Lung Disease

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Why the Biopsy May Be Ordered

The physician may order an open lung biopsy for those suffering from interstitial lung disease to get a better picture of the patient’s condition. Studies of the lung tissue can reveal the degree of damage and sometimes assist the physician in choosing more effective treatment options. In addition to this, the biopsy can provide pertinent information about the prognosis and clarify and/or confirm whether or not the patient may suffer from other disorders of the lung.

How It is Performed

An open lung biopsy is not an in office procedure, but an invasive type of surgery. The patient is given general anesthesia prior to the biopsy. This means that he will not be awake during the actual procedure and will feel nothing. As with similar surgeries, tubing is inserted into the lungs, via the mouth. An incision is made through the chest wall to obtain a small amount of lung tissue. After the test sample is removed, the incision is closed with sutures, typically stitches.


There is some preparation required prior to having most types of surgery that will apply to the open lung biopsy in interstitial lung disease. This may include having blood drawn for labs, x-rays, and fasting. Whether or not the physician orders x-rays and similar testing will be dependent upon the reason why the biopsy is being performed. Generally, food and drink is restricted for eight to twelve hours prior to surgery. The patient should ask his or her physician about these concerns when surgery is scheduled. Other preparation can include prepping the area by antimicrobial wash and hair removal in the chest region, if necessary.

Post Biopsy

The patient may be somewhat groggy after surgery and can experience soreness from the procedure. A tube may still be present in the chest wall. Sometimes, the physician may leave the tube for a few days. This can help prevent adverse effects of surgery, such as a collapsed lung. The patient may be hospitalized so that he can be monitored after the procedure.


Results of the open lung biopsy in interstitial lung disease can be indicative of many problems. Lesions, scars, and masses may be a sign of cancer and conditions of the lungs, such as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IDP. This form of interstitial lung disease can make it difficult to provide oxygen to the body. However, this is only one of the major forms of ILD that can be detected through the open lung biopsy.

Other Considerations

As with other types of surgery, there are risks involved with open lung biopsy. An infection of the lung(s) can occur following this procedure. However, this is not a common consequence. Most likely, the physician has ordered the test because the benefit exceeds possible risks to the patient.


Frequently Asked Questions About Interstitial Lung Disease. University of Chicago Medical Center. Viewed 23, June 2010.

Open Lung Biopsy. Medline Plus. National Institute of Health. Updated 10, May 2010. Viewed 23, June 2010.