- Health Library
- Research a Disease or Condition
- Lookup a Symptom
- Learn About a Test
- Prepare for a Surgery or Procedure
- What to do After Being Discharged
- Self-Care Instructions
- Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- Nutrition, Vitamins & Special Diets
Upper airway biopsy
Upper airway biopsy is surgery in which a small piece of tissue is removed from the upper airway (nose, mouth, throat) for examination.
Biopsy - upper airway
How the Test is Performed
The health care provider will spray a numbing medicine in your mouth and throat. A metal tube is inserted to hold your tongue out of the way.
Another numbing medicine is injected through the tube down the back of the throat. This may cause you to cough at first. When the area feels thick or swollen, it is numb.
The abnormal area is viewed, and a small piece of tissue is removed. It is sent to the laboratory for examination.
How to Prepare for the Test
Do not eat for 6 - 12 hours before the test. You must sign an informed consent form.
How the Test Will Feel
As the area is being numbed, you may feel like there is fluid running down the back of your throat. You may feel the need to cough or gag. And you may feel pressure or mild tugging.
When the numbness wears off, your throat may feel scratchy for several days. After the test, the cough reflex will return in 1 - 2 hours. Then you may eat and drink normally.
Why the Test is Performed
This test may be done if your doctor thinks there is a problem or defect. It may also be done as part of a bronchoscopy when defects are in the upper airway and the lung tissue.
The upper airway tissues are normal, with no abnormal growths.
What Abnormal Results Mean
Disorders or conditions that may be discovered include:
- Bleeding (some bleeding is common, excessive bleeding is not)
- Breathing difficulties
- Sore throat
There is a risk of choking if you swallow water or food before the numbness wears off.
Yung RC, Boss EF. Tracheobronchial endoscopy. In: Cummings CW, Flint PW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Otolaryngology: Head & Neck Surgery. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2010:chap 75.
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Seth Schwartz, MD, MPH, Otolaryngologist, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.