Rectal Biopsy

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A rectal biopsy is the removal of tiny pieces of tissue from the rectal area. This test is done to see if there are nerve cells in the rectum. Nerve cells need to be present for a bowel movement to occur normally. This test is done if your child has problems having a bowel movement on his or her own.

Before the Test

  • Explain the test to your child in a way he or she can understand.
  • Nurses from your doctor's office will tell you how to prepare your child for the test.
  •  Check with your doctor before giving any enemas or suppositories the day of the test.

How the Test Is Done

Patient having a Rectal Biopsy

  • The test is done by your child's surgeon or gastroenterologist. The doctor and nurses will wear face shields, gowns and gloves (Picture 1).
  • Your child will be awake during the procedure.
  • Your child will be placed on either his side or his tummy.
  • The doctor will put a thin, flexible tube into the child's rectum and remove two or three tiny pieces of tissue.
  • Since there are no pain fibers in the rectum, your child will not be able to feel it when the tissue is removed.
  • After the tube is removed, the nurse or doctor will do a rectal exam to check for bleeding. This may be a little uncomfortable, but it only lasts a few seconds. To help your child stay calm, he may be told to breathe in slowly through the nose and breathe out through the mouth.
  • Parents are asked to wait in the waiting room during the test.

After the Test

  • Your child may return to normal activity.
  • Right after the test there may be a small amount (smear) of bleeding. If a small amount of bleeding continues during the day or if there is a larger amount of bleeding, call your child's doctor.
  • It usually takes 4 to 5 days to get results back on the tissue samples (biopsy).  After this, the doctor will tell you the results of the test and the plan for medical care.

If you have any questions, ask your child's doctor or nurse or call __________________.  

Rectal Biopsy (Suction Procedure) (PDF)

HH-III-75 6/89, Revised 3/14  Copyright 1989, Nationwide Children’s Hospital