Breast Biopsy

A breast biopsy involves removing a sample of breast tissue to determine whether it is benign or cancerous. Fortunately, over 65-80% of biopsied suspicious lesions prove to be benign. If a lesion is malignant, the biopsy gives information to the oncologist and surgeon who treat the cancer.


There are several different methods of breast biopsy. A surgical biopsy is no longer the first recommended procedure following an inconclusive imaging exam. At WDI, we perform less invasive biopsies, including ULTRASOUND AND STEROTACTIC. The selected method is dependent upon what modality has been used to detect the lesion, or where there is a better view.


Fine needle aspiration is a percutaneous (skin”) procedure that uses a fine gauge needle (22 -16 gauge) and a syringe to sample fluid from a breast cyst or remove clusters of cells from a solid mass. Several needle insertions are usually required to ensure that an adequate tissue sample is taken. The fluid aspirated from a cyst is usually discarded if it looks like cyst fluid and the cyst disappears. If cells are aspirated it is put on slides and sent to cytology for analysis.


WDI performs Tomographic, upright positioning stereotactic biopsies on calcifications and any other abnormalities that cannot be seen on Ultrasound. We are one of the only mammography centers to use this technology, which ensures the most accurate placement of the needle. The seated position allows to get closer to the chest wall. Sterotactic, Tomographic guided biopsies take the fewest amount of images necessary. They also use less radiation than standard mammographic stereotactic biopsies. Calcifications are usually benign but can be the beginning of breast cancer. An examination of the tissue by a pathologist is the only way to confirm a diagnosis


A Tomographic upright stereotactic biopsy takes less time and is more comfortable for patients.  The patient is seated for positioning and preliminary images are taken. With the breast compressed, we pinpoint the exact location of a breast abnormality by using a computer and mammographic x-rays. A local anesthetic will be injected into the breast to numb it. Using these computer coordinates, a needle is inserted through a small cut in the skin and advanced into the lesion/CALCIFICATION. Mammographic images are again obtained BEFORE THE TISSUES SAMPLE IS REMOVED to confirm that the needle is within the lesion. A small marker will be placed at the biopsy site so that it can be located in the future if necessary.


Once the biopsy is complete, pressure will be applied to stop any bleeding and the opening in the skin is covered with a dressing. Sutures are usually not needed. A mammogram may be performed to confirm that the marker is in the proper position. This procedure is usually completed within an hour.


You should avoid strenuous activity for 24 hours after the biopsy. After that period of time, you will usually be able to resume normal activities.

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