Primary care physicians do more than just provide annual wellness exams and see you when you’re not feeling well. They offer comprehensive care that includes diagnostic procedures like biopsies and other minor office-based medical and surgical procedures.
An office-based procedure is a minor surgery, such as a biopsy, that is done an office setting on an outpatient basis, usually with some level of anesthesia. Primary care doctors at Beaumont can perform several office-based procedures, including:
- Biopsies – A biopsy involves removing tissue, fluid, or growth to check for abnormalities. There are several types of biopsies, which we’ll detail in the next section.
- Aspiration of abscesses – An abscess is an area of pus buildup due to an infection. Aspiration is removal of fluid and/or pus using a needle to aspirate the fluid in an effort to treat the infection.
- Cryotherapy – Cryotherapy involves freezing tissue to remove it. It is often done to destroy pre-cancerous growths.
- Medication injections, like epidural steroid injections – Steroids can be injected into the epidural sac surrounding the spinal column for pain relief.
- Removing of growths like calluses – Sometimes doctors will use a scalpel or other tool to remove growths on the skin, such as calluses.
- Wound repair using stitches – Primary care doctors can treat some cuts and lacerations using stitches. When the wounds are small enough, this can be done in the office.
- Mole removal – Doctors frequently remove both cancerous and non-cancerous moles. Depending on the type and location of the mole and its characteristics, primary care physicians may be able to perform mole removal in the office. Mole removal is often followed by a biopsy to check for signs of cancer.
- Joint injections – People with arthritis and other joint conditions may need joint injections to treat the pain and inflammation associated with their condition. Many primary care doctors can perform this type of procedure in the office.
Types of biopsies
When tissue, fluid, or a growth is removed from your body, it will be sent to a lab to be tested for cancer and other abnormalities. A biopsy can help diagnose diseases or gather more information about the specific characteristics of a disease. For example, a biopsy of a cancerous tumor can help doctors identify the type of tumor, which can lead to more targeted treatment.
Here are some biopsies that can be done in the hospital or in a doctor’s office:
- Fine-needle aspiration uses a thin needle to remove fluid or tissue.
- Core biopsy uses a large, hollow needle to remove a larger section of skin than a fine-needle aspiration can get.
- Image-guided biopsy is a biopsy guided by an imaging modality, like ultrasound, MRI, CT, x-ray, or mammogram. Using the imaging technology, doctors can see precisely where the tumor or growth is so they can remove tissue from the correct area.
- Shave biopsy involves scraping away or shaving thin layers of tissue to check for abnormalities. Doctors often use shave biopsy procedures to remove moles to test for skin cancer.
- Punch biopsies use special devices to remove most or all of a skin lesion. Because it may cut deep into the skin, doctors often have to use stitches to close the wound after the biopsy.
- Excisional biopsy is done using a small scalpel to remove an entire growth or lesion. It requires local anesthesia prior to the biopsy and stitches after the biopsy to close the wound.
- Incisional biopsy is usually reserved for large growths and lesions. It involves removing part of the growth for testing. It also requires local anesthesia and stitches.
Referring to Specialists
Depending upon biopsy results, primary care physicians who perform biopsies will often refer patients to specialists for treatment. For example, if a mole biopsy reveals melanoma, a primary care doctor may refer his or her patient to a dermatologist who specializes in skin cancer. If the mole is on the face or in another delicate area, the doctor may recommend a dermatologist or oncologist who is trained in Mohs surgery.
If you don’t have a primary care physician, we can help. Call our Beaumont referral service today at 800-633-7377.