Aspiration means to draw in or out using a sucking motion. It has two meanings:
- Breathing in a foreign object (sucking food into the airway).
- A medical procedure that removes something from an area of the body. These substances can be air, body fluids, or bone fragments. An example is removing ascites fluid from the belly area.
Aspiration as a medical procedure may also be used to remove tissue samples for a biopsy. This is sometimes called a needle biopsy or aspirate. For example, the aspiration of a breast lesion.
A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of tissue for laboratory examination.
Davidson NE. Breast cancer and benign breast disorders. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 198.
Martin P. Approach to the patient with liver disease. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 146.
O'Donnell AE. Bronchiectasis, atelectasis, cysts, and localized lung disorders In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 90.
Aspiration - illustration
The term aspiration can refer to the process of inhaling purposely. Aspiration also refers to withdrawing using suction, such as in a needle aspiration that would be done to remove tissues for sampling.
Review Date: 12/10/2016
Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.