Removing a small sample of your heart tissue to analyze

Your doctor may recommend a heart biopsy to monitor your heart after a heart transplant or to diagnose a heart condition such as myocarditis or cardiomyopathy.

This minimally invasive procedure uses a thin, flexible tube called a catheter with a device at the tip that removes a small piece of the heart muscle.

What to expect during a heart biopsy?

Your doctor will let you know what you can eat and drink before the biopsy. If you’re taking medication, ask if you should take it on the day of the procedure.

You will wear a hospital gown and lie on a table. While you’ll be given a mild sedative, you will remain conscious during the procedure.

Your doctor will make a small incision in your neck, arm, or groin in which to insert the catheter. A local anesthetic will numb the area of the incision. The doctor will use a special type of moving X-ray to guide the catheter through your blood vessels to your heart. A device at the end of the catheter will remove samples the size of a pinhead from your heart tissue. These samples are then sent to the lab to be examined. Your doctor will contact you to go over the results.

The procedure will take 30 to 60 minutes, and you’ll need to stay for a period of time to monitor your condition. You’ll likely be allowed to return home the same day, but you’ll need someone to drive you.

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Cardiologist taking EKG test of senior patient

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Getting the care you need starts with seeing one of our interventional cardiologists.

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Ask MHVI

Have questions for our heart and vascular program? Email us at AskMHVI@medstar.net.