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Breast needle biopsy is the removal of a sample of breast tissue using a needle. The sample is examined under a microscope. There are different types of breast needle biopsies:
Breast needle biopsy is done to examine a suspicious area in the breast. It may be done if any of the following are found:
The biopsy can identify the area as either benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor may do the following:
Leading up to the biopsy:
You may receive local anesthesia. If this is the case, the area that is being operated on will be numbed.
The doctor will choose from several types of biopsies to get a tissue sample:
The skin over the area will be cleaned. A small needle will be inserted into the breast tissue. Fluid and/or tissue will be removed. The needle may be removed and re-inserted more than one time. After this is done, the doctor will apply pressure to the area and cover the spot with a bandage.
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An ultrasound device is used to locate the area where the biopsy needs to be taken. After the location is found, a small needle will be inserted in the breast tissue. Samples of fluid and/or tissue will be removed. A bandage will be applied after the needle is removed.
The doctor may have you lie down on your stomach or sit depending on the equipment being used. Mammogram or ultrasound images will be taken to locate the suspicious area. The doctor will make a tiny cut in your breast and insert a special probe. Using the probe, the doctor will remove several core samples of breast tissue from the area. After this is done, the area will be covered with a bandage.
In some instances, the suspicious area can only be seen using an MRI scan. Because of this, an MRI-guided breast biopsy may be needed. This procedure takes more time. Tell your doctor if you have a cardiac pacemaker. It may affect the procedure.
It will take less than 1 hour. After the procedure, the tissue collected will be sent to a pathologist who will look at it under a microscope. It may take about 2-5 days to receive the test results.
There will be slight pain in your breast after the biopsy. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication.
Home care will include using medications or taking self-care measures to reduce discomfort. The care staff will give instructions on how to change any bandages. Doing this will help reduce the chance of infection.
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
Canadian Breast Cancer Network
Canadian Cancer Society
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Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy. Radiology Info—Radiological Society of North America website. Available at: https://www.radiologyinfo.org/en/info.cfm?pg=breastbius. Updated January 25, 2017. Accessed January 29, 2018.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP Last Updated: 12/20/2014