Image guided biopsy for ovarian cancer

A doctor might take tissue samples (biopsies) from your ovaries or from a sheet of fatty tissue inside the abdomen called the omentum. 

They use a CT or ultrasound scan to guide where to put the needle. This is called an image guided biopsy.

Not all women are able to have an image guided biopsy. For example, if your cancer is in an area that is difficult to get to. So you might have a laparoscopy instead.

How you have it

You have this test in the CT or ultrasound scanning room.

You have a local anaesthetic injection in the skin over the area so that it goes numb. The procedure takes about 10 to 20 minutes.

Your doctor uses an ultrasound or CT scan to guide the needle through your skin into the correct place. They take tissue samples from part of the ovary or omentum.

They might take samples from different places, so you might have several needle puncture sites. A specialist doctor (pathologist) examines the tissue samples in the lab to check for cancer. 

After the test

After the test, you rest in bed for a while and they monitor your pulse and blood pressure. If all seems well, you can get up and eat and drink normally within a few hours.

You can have this test as an outpatient or you may stay overnight in hospital. It will depend on how well you are and the time of day you have the test.

Getting your results

You should get your results within 1 or 2 weeks. 

Waiting for results can make you anxious. Ask your doctor or nurse how long it will take to get them. Contact the doctor who arranged the test if you haven’t heard anything after a couple of weeks.

You might have contact details for a specialist nurse who you can contact for information if you need to. It may help to talk to a close friend or relative about how you feel.

For information and support, you can call the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Last reviewed: 
05 Jan 2022
Next review due: 
05 Jan 2025
  • Ovarian cancer: recognition and initial management

    National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines [CG122], April 2011

  • Newly diagnosed and relapsed epithelial ovarian carcinoma: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up

    J Ledermann and others; ESMO Guidelines Working Group

    Annals of Oncology. 2013 Oct;24 Suppl 6:vi24-32.

  • Image guided biopsy in the management of cancer of the ovary

    J Spencer and others

    Cancer Imaging. 2006; 6(1): 144–147

  • Principles and practice of oncology (10th edition)
    V De Vita and others
    Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, 2015

Related links