Cardiac Biopsies

A cardiac biopsy is a procedure in which small samples of heart tissue are taken for analysis. The procedure involves inserting a small catheter into a vein in the neck or groin, which is then guided into the right ventricle. It may be used as a one-time diagnostic tool for evaluating the cause of heart failure; or, for patients who’ve undergone heart transplants, cardiac biopsies are performed on a regular basis to catch any possible signs of rejection.

UNC performs several hundred cardiac biopsies each year, and offers distinct advantages for patients who undergo the procedure, including having well-trained, qualified pathologists on staff who are highly skilled at interpreting the results. Cardiac biopsies at UNC are often performed by the patient’s own heart failure/transplant cardiologist to ensure the best continuum of care.

Cardiac biopsies may also be performed at the same time as other catheterization procedures for the convenience of our patients. In this scenario, our multi-disciplinary approach to cardiac care means that multiple specialists at UNC–including heart failure/transplant cardiologists and interventional cardiologists – collaborate closely to ensure that every patient receives the benefit of the best diagnostic and treatment expertise.

The procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia, but conscious sedation may also be used under certain conditions. Patients are often able to return home within one to three hours after the biopsy with minimal precautions and little or no discomfort.


Patricia Chang, MD
George Stouffer, MD
Sid Smith, MD
David Tate, MD
Larry Klein, MD

Contact Us

Call the Heart & Vascular Center referral line at 866-862-4327 to find specialists, make an appointment or learn more about preventing heart disease.

Open Access is a new physician referral service, created by the UNC Center for Heart & Vascular Care, which coordinates all admissions and transfers through a single phone call and guarantees immediate acceptance for patients. Please contact us to learn more or call 866-862-4327.

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