If the cells in question cannot be accessed with other biopsy procedures or if other biopsy results have not been conclusive, your doctor may recommend a surgical biopsy.
During a surgical biopsy, a surgeon makes an incision in your skin to access the suspicious area of the cells. Examples of surgical biopsy procedures include surgery to remove a breast lump for a possible diagnosis of breast cancer and surgery to remove a lymph node for a possible diagnosis of lymphoma.
Surgical biopsy procedures can be used to remove part of an abnormal area of cells (incisional biopsy). Or a surgical biopsy can be used to remove a complete area of abnormal cells (excisional biopsy).
You may receive local anesthetics to numb the biopsy area. Some surgical biopsy procedures require general anesthesia to make you unconscious during the procedure. You may also have to stay in the hospital for observation after the procedure.