Invasive Procedures and Testing

Diagnosing and treating any ailment requires thorough examination. Many of the tests required for further investigation are invasive and elaborate. There is a risk of harm associated with the procedure itself, and there is also a risk that the lab results from these tests may not be read properly.


A biopsy is performed to analyze a certain group of cells, typically in search of cancer or other abnormal cell growth. This is done by extracting a sample directly from the site in question. Common techniques involve either a needle or a scalpel. If the suspicious area is located within the body, then the process becomes drastically more complicated.

Once the sample is extracted, it will be evaluated in a lab. The lab may be located in the same building as the medical provider’s office, but the physician may also elect to use a facility much farther away. A medical practitioner should select the lab with the most effective diagnostic equipment for each patient’s specific symptoms or condition. The time it takes to see results from these tests vary depending on what type of biopsy was needed and which lab the doctor sent the sample to.

Potential risks affecting biopsy sites include:

Common Mistakes with Invasive Procedures

The timely manner of executing certain tests is as important as the test itself. If a biopsy is not conducted soon enough, a patient that actually has cancer will have a more progressed stage of cancer. This makes it more difficult to treat.

Even the smallest, most mundane procedures can be done incorrectly. Catheters that have not been inserted correctly cause over 80,000 infections a year in hospital patients. Deep bruising and excessive blood loss can occur. A delay of intubation can cause brain damage, injury to the airways, pulmonary aspiration, and even death. These are simple procedures that are typically uneventful, but if a nurse or physician is distracted during the process a medical error will likely occur.

Tracheotomy Errors

A tracheotomy is a fairly common procedure that makes a direct incision in the neck to open a new airway for the patient to breathe easier. It is also known as a pharyngotomy, laryngotomy, or tracheostomy. The resulting stoma can serve as an independent path for air or as an insertion site for a tracheostomy tube.

Occasionally, doctors suggest a tracheotomy when it is not actually needed. There are recorded cases where a patient was diagnosed with something such as respiratory failure and was told that a permanent stoma would be necessary. However, the diagnosis of respiratory failure was inaccurate. Sleep apnea can sometimes be mistaken for respiratory failure, and a tracheotomy with a permanent stoma would be an entirely unnecessary procedure. It is always a good idea to get a second, or even third, professional opinion when considering invasive medical treatment.



Arnold, Sarah. “It’s yes and no: readers say trachs have their pros and cons.” Accent on Living Fall 1995: 28+. Academic OneFile. Web. 21 May 2012.
Leder, Steven B. “Incidence and type of aspiration in acute care patients requiring mechanical ventilation via a new tracheotomy *.” Chest Nov. 2002: 1721+. Academic OneFile. Web. 21 May 2012.
Maziak, Donna E., Maureen O. Meade, and Thomas R.J. Todd. “The timing of tracheotomy: a systematic review.” Chest Aug. 1998: 605+. Academic OneFile. Web. 21 May 2012.