Myocardial biopsy

Definition

Myocardial biopsy is the removal of a small piece of heart muscle for examination.

Alternative Names

Heart biopsy; Biopsy - heart

How the Test is Performed

Myocardial biopsy is done through a catheter that is threaded into your heart (cardiac catheterization). The procedure will take place in a hospital radiology department, special procedures room, or cardiac diagnostics laboratory.

To have the procedure:

How to Prepare for the Test

You will be told not to eat or drink anything for 6 to 8 hours before the test. The procedure takes place in the hospital. Most often, you will be admitted the morning of the procedure, but in some cases, you may need to be admitted the night before.

A provider will explain the procedure and its risks. You must sign a consent form.

How the Test will Feel

You may feel some pressure at the biopsy site. You may have some discomfort due to lying still for a long period of time.

Why the Test is Performed

This procedure is routinely done after heart transplantation to watch for signs of rejection.

Your provider may also order this procedure if you have signs of:

Normal Results

A normal result means no abnormal heart muscle tissue was discovered. However, it does not necessarily mean your heart is normal because sometimes the biopsy can miss abnormal tissue.

What Abnormal Results Mean

An abnormal result means abnormal tissue was found. This test may reveal the cause of cardiomyopathy. Abnormal tissue may also be due to:

Risks

Risks are moderate and include:

References

Cooper LT, Knowlton KU. Myocarditis. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, Braunwald E, eds. Braunwald’s Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 67.

O’Connor CM, Rogers JG. Heart failure: Pathophysiology and diagnosis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman’s Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 58.