Myocardial Biopsy 

A myocardial biopsy is an invasive diagnostic procedure that removes a small piece of the heart muscle tissue so that it can be examined in a lab. A bioptome, which is a small catheter that has jaws on its end, is used to grasp and remove the tissue. The procedure can be done on its own or in combination with other heart tests.  

What Can a Myocardial Biopsy Diagnose? 

A myocardial biopsy is most often used after a heart transplant to see if the heart is showing signs of rejection (heart tissue damage is one of those signs). It can also be used to diagnose: 

  • Cardiac amyloidosis – a condition characterized by deposits of abnormal proteins on heart tissue 
  • Myocarditis –inflammation of the heart muscle 
  • Cardiomyopathy – deterioration of the heart muscle 

How Is a Myocardial Biopsy Performed? 

During this procedure, you may be given a sedative to make you sleepy but most people remain awake and conscious. Here’s how the heart biopsy is performed: 

  • A local anesthetic is administered to numb an area of the neck. 
  • A small incision is made to insert the catheter. 
  • The catheter is inserted into a blood vessel and then carefully guided to the heart. 
  • Once in place, the bioptome will obtain samples of heart muscle tissue. 
  • The catheter will be removed from the blood vessel and the samples carefully placed in a container to be sent to the lab for analysis. 

What to Expect 

A myocardial biopsy procedure takes about an hour to complete. While you will be monitored for a couple of hours following the procedure, you’ll likely go home the same day. (Someone will need to drive you home, so be sure to make arrangements beforehand.) 

There are a handful of risks associated with this procedure, although they are generally very rare. It’s possible to experience: 

  • Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) 
  • Blood vessel damage 
  • Bleeding 
  • Blood clots 
  • Infection 


Myocardial biopsy is generally effective at diagnosing heart conditions, although it’s possible for it to miss abnormal tissue during the sample collection, returning a normal result that may be inaccurate.  

That’s why it’s best to turn to a team that is highly experienced at diagnosing and treating heart conditions, like the specialists at Tampa General Hospital’s Heart & Vascular Institute. We remain committed to delivering world-class outcomes and maintaining our status as a renowned hospital for cardiology.