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Heart Biopsy

Why is a heart biopsy done?
A heart biopsy is done to see what the cells in the heart muscle look like. The test is most often done after a heart transplant to see if the heart is being rejected by the body. It may also be done if the doctor suspects an infection in the heart, or if the heart is not pumping well for unknown reasons.

How is a heart biopsy done?
To do this test, some small pieces of the heart are removed and looked at under a microscope. To get the sample of heart cells, a doctor places a small tube into a large vein in the leg which is then passed into the heart. Some tiny pieces of the heart muscle are removed and sent to the lab where they are carefully examined.

Where is the test done?
This test may be done while a child is in the hospital or as an outpatient procedure. If your child is coming in for this test from home, be sure to come to the Pediatric Cardiology Clinic early that morning. Your child should not eat or drink anything the morning of the biopsy. If your child has had a transplant, do not give Tacrolimus or CellCept the morning of the biopsy. Bring these medications with you he or she can take them after a drug level has been drawn and the biopsy is completed. All other medicines may be taken prior to the biopsy. Your child may be given medicines to make him or her sleepy during the test. Older children sometimes prefer to have only a local anesthetic.

How long will the test take?
The biopsy takes about an hour to complete. After the test, your child will need to lie flat for 2 hours. A normal diet can be resumed as soon as the child is hungry.

2006: Information reviewed and approved by Laura Bell, RN, MSN, PNP Pediatric Cardiac Surgery and Lynda Dettling RN, BSN.


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University of Michigan Health System Cardiovascular Center
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