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 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.