Breast Biopsy

If your mammogram showed an abnormality in your breast, a breast biopsy may be your next step. This non-surgical procedure involves using a biopsy needle to remove a small sample of tissue from the area of concern. The results will help your physician determine if that suspicious-looking spot on the mammogram is going to need more attention.

Imaging-guided breast biopsy is often an excellent alternative to a surgical biopsy. Performed on an outpatient basis, the procedure is accurate, cost-effective (one-third the cost of surgery), does not require hospitalization or general anesthesia, and does not cause significant scarring.

What should I expect?

With the guidance of breast-imaging technology, a specially trained radiologist will insert a thin, hollow breast-biopsy needle into the area of concern to remove a small sample of the suspicious tissue. A local anesthetic is applied to numb the area.

Depending on your mammogram results, the biopsy may be guided by stereotactic (X-ray) technology, ultrasound or MRI. A typical biopsy takes approximately one hour.

Stereotactic Biopsy

For a stereotactic biopsy, you will lie on your stomach with your breast suspended through a hole on a specially designed breast biopsy table that is equipped with digital mammography equipment to pinpoint the exact biopsy location. The table elevates during the non-surgical procedure to allow easy access to the breast by the radiologist.

Tissue samples are extracted using a vacuum-assisted biopsy instrument. After the tissue samples are removed, a small clip is inserted to identify the biopsy area. A post-biopsy mammogram is performed to document the location of the clip. The entire procedure takes about an hour, but the actual biopsy time is much less.

Ultrasound-guided Biopsy

Ultrasound may also be used to guide a needle and other necessary instrumentation to the biopsy area. You will lie in a position that provides the best access to the targeted area, usually on your back or side. After the tissue samples are removed, a small clip is inserted to identify the biopsy area. A post-biopsy mammogram is performed to document the location of the clip. The entire procedure takes about an hour, but the actual biopsy time is much less.

MRI-guided Biopsy

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is useful in the biopsy of abnormalities that can’t be seen clearly on ultrasound or X-ray. During the procedure, you will be given contrast material through an IV to help the radiologist better see the biopsy area. After the biopsy, a small clip is inserted into the area where the tissue sample was removed. The biopsy is followed by an MRI and mammogram of the targeted area.

What instructions should I follow after the biopsy?

Following the biopsy, you should avoid strenuous exercise, heavy lifting, reaching, pulling or tugging for 48 hours. You will receive additional post-care instructions after the procedure.

When will I receive results?

Your biopsy results will generally be available from the pathology laboratory within 72 hours. Be sure to review the results with your physician.