Breast biopsy - ultrasound

Definition

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, open, and lumpectomy. This article focuses on needle-based, ultrasound-guided breast biopsies.

Alternative Names

Biopsy - breast - ultrasound; Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy; Core needle breast biopsy - ultrasound; Breast cancer-breast biopsy - ultrasound; Abnormal mammogram - breast biopsy - ultrasound

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 biopsy is done using one of the following:

Once the tissue sample has been taken, the catheter or 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 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 can do whatever activity you want as long as it does not cause pain or discomfort. Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to relieve pain.

You may have some bruising, and there will be a very small scar where the needle was inserted.

Why the Test is Performed

An ultrasound-guided breast biopsy may be done to evaluate abnormal findings on a mammogram, breast ultrasound, or during a physical exam.

To determine whether someone has breast cancer, a biopsy must be done. Tissue from the abnormal area is removed and examined under a microscope.

Normal Results

A normal result means there is no sign of cancer or other breast problems.

Your health care provider will let you know if and when you need a follow-up mammogram or other tests.

What Abnormal Results Mean

A biopsy can identify a number of breast conditions that are not cancer or precancer, including:

Biopsy results may show conditions such as:

Abnormal results may mean that you have breast cancer. Two main types of breast cancer may be found:

Depending on the biopsy results, you may need further surgery or treatment.

Your provider will discuss the meaning of the biopsy results with you.

Risks

There is a slight chance of infection at the injection or incision site. Excessive bleeding is rare.

References

Burke CT, Dixon RG, Mauro MA, et al. Ultrasound-guided breast biopsy. In: Burke CT, Dixon RG, Mauro MA, et al. High-Yield Imaging: Interventional. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2010.

Katz VL, Dotters D. Breast diseases: diagnosis and treatment of benign and malignant disease. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012:chap 15.

Wolff AC, Domchek SM, Davidson NE, Sacchini V, McCormick B. Cancer of the breast. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Doroshow JH, Kastan MB, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloff's Clinical Oncology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 91.


Review Date: 3/13/2015
Reviewed By: 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, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com