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What is a 'breast biopsy'?

Breast Biopsy

Kenneth W. Chin (M.D., F.A.C.R.) gives expert video advice on: What are the risks involved with a breast biopsy?; How can I prepare for a breast biopsy?; How does an X ray-guided breast biopsy work? and more...

What is a 'breast biopsy'?

A breast biopsy using imaging guidance is utilized in order to obtain tissue from areas that have become suspicious, because of a previous imaging study. The breast biopsy can be performed using ultra sound guidance or mammography or even in some instances MRI. So that the pieces of tissue can be made through tiny incisions and can be performed very accurately and strategically with using these particular imaging sources as guidance to the specific area of question.

How do the techniques of breast biopsy differ?

The goal of breast biopsy using different imaging techniques is the same, to obtain tissue from an area that is suspicious. Ultrasound guided biopsy can be performed with visualization of the area of abnormality using a hand held transducer. With monographic techniques we use what's called a stereotactic device where you are placed on a table with a special kind of imaging opening which allows us to then view the breast using mammography. Then the needle is then placed in a three-dimensional way so that we can strategically get into the area of abnormality without touching the remainder of the surrounding tissue. MRI guidance also provides the same kind of ability as mammography guidance however it's performed in conjunction with an MRI scanner.

What are the risks involved with a breast biopsy?

Some of the risks that are associated with breast biopsy include bleeding, or infection or, in rare instances, especially in women who are extremely thin, possibility of entering the lung and causing a collapsed lung. What's called the pneumothorax.

What will I experience during a breast biopsy?

What you can expect to experience during a breast biopsy is a small amount of burning pain when the local anesthetic is applied to the skin, and underlying soft tissues. Other than that, the amount of sensation you should feel is minimal.

How does an X ray-guided breast biopsy work?

Stereotactic biopsy of the breast is performed with the woman lying on the special table with an opening through which mammography can be performed. The mammographic imaging is then performed in a three dimensional way where areas that are suspicious and are felt to be possibly abnormal are then localized, allowing a needle to go strategically into the area without touching other portions of the breast.

How does an MR-guided breast biopsy work?

MR-guided biopsy is a relatively new technique which involves using the MRI scanner to localized areas that are abnormal in the breast that may not be visible either by mammography or ultrasound. When these areas are localized then special devices and localizers then allow a needle to be placed into the vicinity of the area of abnormality. The patient is taken out of the scanner and through that guiding needle several biopsies are obtained.

How does an ultrasound-guided breast biopsy work?

When an ultrasound-guided breast biopsy is performed an ultrasound transducer or a handheld device which allows us to see an area that's abnormal in the breast is then visualized, and then a needle is placed through the skin directly into the area of abnormality while we are watching the needle enter the abnormality. This gives us a great deal of control. We then obtain piece of tissue with special automated needles that allow us to pull tissue into the needle and remove appropriate amounts of suspicious material.

Can I get a breast biopsy if I am pregnant or breast feeding?

Breast biopsies can be performed on women who are pregnant or breast feeding. However these situations can present specific issues that should be discussed in detail with your radiologist and treating physician.

Can I get a breast biopsy if I have breast implants?

Breast Biopsies can be performed on women with Breast implants. Care must be taken to avoid entering into the Breast implant or potentially disrupting it.