Biopsy - breast - ultrasound; Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy; Core needle breast biopsy - ultrasound; Breast cancer - breast biopsy - ultrasound; Abnormal mammogram - breast biopsy - ultrasound
A breast biopsy is the removal of breast tissue to examine it for signs of breast cancer or other disorders.
There are several types of breast biopsies, including stereotactic, ultrasound-guided, MRI-guided, and excisional breast biopsy. This article focuses on needle-based, ultrasound-guided breast biopsies.
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How the Test is Performed
You are asked to undress from the waist up. You wear a robe that opens in the front. During the biopsy, you are awake.
You lie on your back.
The biopsy is done in the following way:
The health care provider cleans the area on your breast.
Numbing medicine is injected.
The doctor makes a very small cut on your breast over the area that needs to be biopsied.
The doctor uses an ultrasound machine to guide the needle to the abnormal area in your breast that needs to be biopsied.
Several small pieces of tissue are taken.
A small metal clip may be placed into the breast in the area of the biopsy to mark it, if needed.
The biopsy is done using one of the following:
Fine needle aspiration
Hollow needle (called a core needle)
Both a hollow needle and vacuum-powered device
Once the tissue sample has been taken, the needle is removed. Ice and pressure are applied to the site to stop any bleeding. A bandage is applied to absorb any fluid. You do not need any stitches after the needle is taken out. If needed, strips of tape may be placed to close the wound.
How to Prepare for the Test
The provider will ask about your medical history and perform a manual breast exam.
If you take blood thinning medicines (including aspirin, supplements, or herbs), ask your doctor whether you need to stop taking these before the biopsy.
Tell your doctor if you may be pregnant.
DO NOT use lotion, perfume, powder, or deodorant underneath your arms or on your breasts.
How the Test will Feel
When the numbing medicine is injected, it may sting a bit.
During the procedure, you may feel slight discomfort or light pressure.
After the test, the breast may be sore and tender to the touch for several days. You will be given instructions about what activities you can do, how to take care of your breast, and what medicines you can take for pain.
You may have some bruising, and there will be a very small scar where the needle was inserted.
Henry NL, Shah PD, Haider I, Freer PE, Jagsi R, Sabel MS. Cancer of the breast. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 88.
Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.