Breast Biopsy

breast biopsy

A breast biopsy is performed to remove some cells—either surgically or through a less invasive procedure involving a hollow needle—from a suspicious area in the breast and examine them under a microscope to determine a diagnosis. Image-guided needle biopsy is not designed to remove the entire lesion, but most of a very small lesion may be removed in the process of biopsy. Image-guided biopsy is performed when the abnormal area in the breast is too small to be felt, making it difficult to locate the lesion by hand. There are times when your doctor may decide that image-guidance for biopsy is appropriate even for a mass that can be felt.

A breast biopsy is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure which allows you to return to your normal activities within a few hours after the completion of the procedure. A breast biopsy is often recommended by a radiologist if any abnormalities are detected on your mammogram, ultrasound, MRI, or special mammography views. Your doctor may order a breast biopsy if an abnormality is detected on a physical exam. If a breast biopsy is indicated, there are different methods of obtaining the tissue sample. You can have it performed by doing a stereotactic needle biopsy using mammography guidance, an ultrasound-guided core biopsy, or an MRI-guided biopsy to ascertain whether a malignancy (cancer) is present. The preferred method is determined by which imaging the abnormality is best visualized, the size of the lesion, the location of the lesion in the breast, and the patient’s health status.

Today many suspicious breast abnormalities can be diagnosed without surgery by using needle biopsy. In the past, excisional surgery biopsy was the only option for this purpose.

There are two types of needle biopsies – fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) and core needle biopsy (CNB). FNAB uses a very thin needle to remove fluid and tiny fragments of tissue. CNB uses a slightly larger needle to remove a cylindrical piece of tissue about 1/16 inch in diameter and 2 inches long. CNB is the preferred method because FNAB is difficult due to the small amount of tissue extracted may be inadequate. In our center, the core needle biopsy is the preferred choice.

Even if an abnormality is too small to be felt, FNAB or CNB can still be done using breast imaging methods such as ultrasound, stereotactic mammography, and MRI to guide the needle into the lesion.