There are three main ways to biopsy the lungs: with a bronchoscope down the trachea, with a thin needle through the chest wall, or via a surgical incision
performed by a surgeon. These three techniques are each useful for different things. A bronchoscope can reach things that are more centrally located and are useful for biopsy of certain types of lung conditions that affect the more peripheral lung tissue. Needle biopsies are useful for peripheral lung nodules and masses. Surgical biopsies with our without using video assistance are also useful for peripheral nodules and masses and are also very helpful for interstitial lung conditions like pulmonary fibrosis
. Normally, biopsies using the bronchoscope or a needle are outpatient procedures and patients go home the same day after making sure that there is not bleeding or a collapsed lung
. Patients needing a surgical biopsy must stay longer, but usually just a few days.