Breast Needle Biopsy
to view an animated version of this procedure.
is the removal of a sample of breast tissue using a needle. The sample is examined in a lab.
There are different types of breast needle biopsies:
Fine needle aspiration
Ultrasound-directed needle biopsy
Stereotactic core needle biopsy
MRI-guided breast biopsy
Vacuum-assisted device biopsy
Reasons for Procedure
Breast needle biopsy is done to examine a suspicious area in the breast. It may be done if any of the following are found:
- Tissue thickening
- Nipple abnormality
- Discharge from the nipple
Abnormal ultrasound or
The biopsy can identify the area as either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Complications are rare, but no procedure is completely free of risk. If you are planning to have a biopsy, your doctor will review a list of possible complications:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
- Poor nutrition
Chronic illnesses, such as
- Bleeding disorders
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Your doctor may do the following:
- Physical exam, especially a breast exam
- Blood tests
and/or breast ultrasound
Leading up to the biopsy:
- Talk to your doctor about your current medications. Certain medication may need to be stopped before the procedure.
- Shower the morning of the biopsy. You may be asked to use a special antibacterial soap.
You may receive local anesthesia. If this is the case, the area that is being operated on will be numbed.
Description of the Procedure
The doctor will choose from several types of biopsies to get a tissue sample:
Fine Needle Aspiration
The skin over the area will be cleaned. A small needle will be inserted into the breast tissue. Fluid and/or tissue will be removed. The needle may be removed and re-inserted more than one time. After this is done, the doctor will apply pressure to the area and cover the spot with a bandage.
Ultrasound-directed Needle Biopsy
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An ultrasound device is used to locate the area where the biopsy needs to be taken. After the location is found, a small needle will be inserted in the breast tissue. Samples of fluid and/or tissue will be removed. A bandage will be applied after the needle is removed.
Stereotactic Core Needle Biopsy
The doctor may have you lie down on your stomach or sit depending on the equipment being used. Mammogram
or ultrasound images will be taken to locate the suspicious area. The doctor will make a tiny cut in your breast and insert a special probe. Using the probe, the doctor will remove several core samples of breast tissue from the area. After this is done, the area will be covered with a bandage.
MRI-guided Breast Biopsy
In some instances, the suspicious area can only be seen using
. Because of this, an MRI-guided breast biopsy may be needed. This procedure takes more time. Tell your doctor if you have a
. It may affect the procedure.
Vacuum-assisted Device Biopsy
The doctor will insert a needle and use pressure from a vacuum to pull tissue from the mass through the needle. The tissue is then placed into a sampling chamber. This method lets the doctor collect multiple tissue samples during one needle insertion.
How Long Will It Take?
It will take less than 1 hour. After the procedure, the tissue collected will be sent to a pathologist who will look at it under a microscope. It may take about 2-5 days to receive the test results.
Will It Hurt?
There will be slight pain in your breast after the biopsy. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication.
Home care will include using medications or taking self-care measures to reduce discomfort. The care staff will give instructions on how to change any bandages. Doing this will help reduce the chance of infection.
Call Your Doctor
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications, such as:
- Signs of infection, including fever and chills
- Redness, swelling, increasing pain, a lot of bleeding, or discharge from the biopsy site
- Persistent nausea and/or vomiting
- Pain that you cannot control with the medications you were given
- Cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain
- Pain and/or swelling in your feet, calves, or legs
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
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