Biopsy is recommended when an indeterminate abnormality is seen on mammogram and/or ultrasound, and the radiologist requires a tissue diagnosis to ascertain the nature of the abnormality. After numbing the area in question, a small needle gets inserted into the breast and small pieces of breast tissue are removed and subsequently sent to a doctor specializing in cell analyzation (pathologist). The patient is then bandaged and able to leave the clinic.
In ultrasound-guided breast biopsy, ultrasound imaging is used to help guide the radiologist’s instruments to the site of the abnormality. They are most valuable with small, difficult to assess masses that may be partially fluid-filled, as well as when the breast ultrasound shows an abnormality that is not seen on mammography. There are 2 main types of ultrasound-guided biopsy devices: Spring-loaded (most commonly used) and vacuum assisted.
The patient lies on their back with the arm extended over the head. The radiologist will numb the area in the breast with local anesthesia, then make a tiny skin nick. A small needle will be inserted and multiple samples of breast tissue will be removed. A tiny titanium clip will be placed in the area of the biopsied abnormality for future follow up or guidance in case of possible follow up surgery. There is no need for stitches, as a simple bandage will be placed, and the patient will be able to resume daily activities.
A stereotactic breast biopsy is most helpful when a mammogram shows a mass, calcifications (small calcium stones) or distortion of breast tissue that cannot be definitively seen on ultrasound.
The patient lies on their belly on a special table with an attached mammogram machine. The breast in question hangs down through an opening in the table. The radiologist then obtains some low dose mammograms of the breast to find the abnormality. Then, after numbing the area in question, using computer guidance, a needle is inserted in to the area and multiple samples of breast tissue are removed. In most cases, the sampled tissue will be x-rayed to ensure that pieces of the abnormality were obtained. A tiny titanium clip will be placed in the area of the biopsied abnormality for future follow up or guidance in case of possible follow up surgery. A “gentle” mammogram will be obtained after the procedure for one more confirmation. There is no need for stitches, as a simple bandage will be placed, and the patient will be able to resume daily activities
There is no need to fast the night before, and normal medications may be taken. If needed, you may drive yourself to and from the procedure, as no general anesthesia is used. Please note that special steps must be taken if the patient is on blood thinners, prior to the procedure or the procedure may be canceled. Patients on blood thinners should discuss this with the radiologist and their referring clinician before any planned procedure. Avoid using talcum powder or deodorant on the day of your biopsy.
If I need a breast biopsy, does this mean I have cancer?
NO. Most biopsies are benign and show no cancer.
Who performs the biopsy?
Our fellowship-trained breast imaging radiologist will perform the biopsy procedures. Highly trained and qualified staff will be assisting the doctor.
Will a biopsy leave a scar?
Only a tiny skin nick is made, so scarring is minimal.
Will I feel any pain?
Most patients feel very little pain at time of local anesthesia. The procedure itself is usually very well tolerated.
Will I need a ride home?
NO general anesthesia is used, only local anesthesia is used, so patients can usually resume normal non-strenuous daily activities immediately following the procedure.
How long will it take to receive my results?
Currently, results are received within 3-5 business days.
Who interprets the results and how do I get them?
The results and a final report from the radiologist will get faxed to the referring clinician, and in most cases, our technologist or radiologist will call the patient with the results. There are some cases where the referring clinician will want to discuss the results with their own patient(s).