Percutaneous breast biopsies can be done in a doctor's office or in an outpatient setting. A needle or special probe is used to remove samples through the skin. Once removed, the biopsy sample is sent to a lab for study. If a lump or breast change cannot be felt, an image-guided biopsy is done. In these cases, the breast change may be located using ultrasound guidance. Computer mapping, based on mammograms, can also pinpoint breast changes.
Understanding the Risks
Before the biopsy, your doctor will talk with you about the risks of the procedure.
- Aspiration and vacuum-assisted biopsy may cause slight bruising. This may occur where the needle or probe is inserted.
- Core needle biopsies carry a small risk of infection.
- All percutaneous biopsies may provide a false-negative result. This means you may have cancer cells that don't appear in the biopsy sample. If the results aren't clear, you are likely to have another type of biopsy.
During the Biopsy
- During an aspiration, a very thin needle is placed into the lump. This type of biopsy takes only minutes to perform.
- With core needle biopsy, more than one sample is taken. The needle is inserted for each sample.
- With vacuum-assisted biopsy, the probe often is inserted only once.
- When needed, both core needle and vacuum-assisted biopsy can be image-guided. This is done on an outpatient basis.
After the Biopsy
You can go home shortly after the biopsy, no matter which method is used. And you can return to your normal routine almost right away. You may have some bruising and swelling for a few days. Sometimes a small, freckle-like scar appears.