Breast Biopsy 2017-03-13T23:25:41+00:00

Breast Biopsy

A breast biopsy involves removing a sample of breast tissue, cells or fluid. While a physical breast exam, mammography, breast ultrasound, and other breast imaging methods can help detect a breast abnormality, breast biopsy followed by pathological (microscopic) analysis is the only definitive way to determine if cancer is present.

There are several types of breast biopsies detailed below, and your doctor will determine the best method based on several factors:

  • Can the abnormality be felt?
  • How suspicious the abnormality appears
  • The size
  • The shape
  • The number of abnormalities seen

Fine Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAB)

breast-biospyFine Needle Aspiration Biopsy (FNAB) uses a small needle that goes through the skin. This procedure samples fluid or cells from a mass. Usually, ultrasound is used to guide the needle to the correct location. FNAB does not require stitches and is performed at WISH. A tiny bandage is placed over the area after the procedure. Normal activities can usually be resumed the same day.

Core Needle Biopsy

Core Needle Biopsy is a procedure that involves removing small samples of tissue using a hollow “core” needle. Either ultrasound or stereotactic mammography guidance is used, but most commonly, ultrasound is used to guide the needle to the correct location. Stereotactic means that the breast biopsy device is precisely guided to the correct location using mammography and computer coordinates.

First, the area is numbed with an injection of local anesthetic. A small skin nick is made, and the needle is guided to the lesion using ultrasound or stereotactic mammography. Patients may experience a slight pressure or “pinching,” but should not experience any significant pain. As tissue samples are taken, clicks may be heard from the needle and sampling instrument. In most cases, a tiny sterile metal clip will be placed to mark the location of the biopsy.  The clip cannot be felt, but is crucial to mark the exact site of the biopsy.  The skin nick is closed with an adhesive bandage and covered with a small dressing and ice pack. Some bruising may occur. The tissue samples are sent to the pathology laboratory for diagnosis, and our radiologist will call you with the results, generally within 24 hours. Most normal activities may be resumed the next day.

Vacuum-Assisted Core Needle Biopsy

Vacuum-Assisted Core Needle Biopsy is a procedure that involves removing small samples of tissue using a special probe. This probe has a vacuum line which draws the tiny amount of breast tissue through the opening of the probe, into the sampling chamber of the device. The tissue sample is carried through the probe to the collection area where the tissue sample is then captured.

Either ultrasound or stereotactic mammography guidance can be used. Stereotactic mammography uses computers to pinpoint the exact location of the mass or calcifications based on mammograms taken from two different angles. The coordinates will help the radiologist to guide the needle to the correct area. With ultrasound, our radiologist will watch the needle on the ultrasound monitor to help guide it to the area of concern. The patient will either be laying on their back (for ultrasound) or their stomach (for stereotactic).

Once a sufficient number of tissue samples have been collected, our radiologist will remove the probe and apply pressure to the biopsy site. In most cases, a tiny sterile metal clip will be placed to mark the location of the biopsy. The clip cannot be felt but is crucial to mark the exact site of the biopsy. An adhesive bandage will close the small skin nick and it will be covered with a dressing and ice pack. Minimal bruising is usually seen. The tissue samples are sent to the pathology laboratory for diagnosis, and the radiologist will call you with the results, generally within 24 hours. Most normal activities may be resumed the next day.

Needle/Wire Localization with Open Surgical Biopsy

This procedure is a pre-operative procedure immediately followed by a surgical biopsy. Using a mammogram or ultrasound as a guide, our radiologist places a needle and/or a fine wire into the suspicious area. The area is then removed by a surgeon the same day with an open surgical biopsy. Needle/Wire placement is performed when the area of concern was seen on a mammogram and/or ultrasound and cannot be felt. Traditional open surgical biopsy requires a small incision in the breast and is performed by a surgeon.

When the area of concern is removed, the tissue is usually x-rayed to confirm that the area in question has been removed. When this is complete, the entire specimen will be taken to the laboratory to be examined by the pathologist. The incision will be closed with suture material. This biopsy is usually done as an outpatient procedure.

Each type of breast biopsy is a bit different. Please read about your specific type of biopsy above. If you have any questions, please contact WISH Fresno Breast Center at 559-435.4433.
  • If you are taking a blood thinner, contact us immediately for specific instructions.
  • Eat a light meal.
Our radiologist will contact you with the results of your needle biopsy, usually within 24 hours.

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