What is an endometrial biopsy?

An endometrial biopsy is a medical procedure in which a small piece of tissue from the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) is removed for examination under a microscope. The removed tissue is examined for cancer or any other cell abnormalities.

Why is an endometrial biopsy done?

An endometrial biopsy is done to help your doctor find out the cause of problems leading to heavy or irregular bleeding. It is the most common test done to diagnose endometrial cancer. Though it is a simple office procedure, it needs to be performed by a provider who has experience in performing the test. The biopsy also lets your doctor check to see if your body's endometrial hormone levels are balanced.

Who might need an endometrial biopsy?

Endometrial biopsies are typically done on women over the age of 35 and prior to menopause. It cannot be done on pregnant women. Sometimes a biopsy will be done on a woman who is having trouble getting pregnant to see if the infertility is linked to a problem with the endometrium.

What symptoms might suggest you need an endometrial biopsy?

If you have any of the following, your provider may recommend an endometrial biopsy:

  • Heavy or very long menstrual periods
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Bleeding after menopause
  • Abnormal bleeding in women taking tamoxifen, a breast cancer medicine
  • Thickened uterine lining, determined by an ultrasound

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/03/2015.

References

  • Kuntz C. Endometrial biopsy. Can Fam Physician. Jan 2007; 53(1): 43–44.
  • American Cancer Society. How is endometrial cancer diagnosed? Accessed 1/6/2015.
  • American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Tamoxifen and uterine cancer Accessed 1/6/2015
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Practice Bulletins. Practice Bulletin 136: Management of Abnormal Uterine Bleeding Associated with Ovulatory Dysfunction. Obstet Gynecol. 2013; 122(1):176-185.

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